The ‘Down on the Farm’ Panel at the Cubs Convention: Baez, Vogelbach, Vizcaino, Vitters, More

2013 cubs conventionI have returned home after a long, Cubs-packed weekend at the 2013 Cubs Convention. More on that later – by which I mean the “meta” version of the visit – but I want to catch you up on the substantive bits from yesterday’s ‘Down on the Farm’ panel, featuring Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod, Farm Director Brandon Hyde, Director of Pro Scouting Joe Bohringer, Josh Vitters, and Chris Rusin. It’s perennially one of the best panels, and this year’s was no exception.

Among the substantive information discussed …

  • Hyde talked about this past week’s Rookie Development Camp, and said the primary focus was helping the young players understand what it is going to be like when they make it to the big leagues. So, again, the inclusion of Javier Baez says a lot about how quickly they expect him to rise through the ranks. McLeod added that Kerry Wood and Mark Prior addressed the youngsters about the transition to the big leagues (about which we heard last week), which he thought was the perfect duo to speak about pressure, hype, and performing.
  • McLeod described the ‘Player Plan’ that each minor league player has – it sounded a lot like a corporate employee file – which documents his strengths, weaknesses, things he needs to focus on, etc. The plan is shared with the player so they know what the development guys think they need to be doing.
  • Bohringer described the four things a prospect generally needs to have to be considered a starting pitcher long-term: at least three quality pitches, a repeatable delivery, the ability to throw strikes with consistency, and a starting pitcher’s frame.
  • Hyde said something I’ve been saying for years: you don’t move a prospect off of a higher defensive position (SS and CF are the two main ones that come up) until it becomes absolutely necessary, because you want to preserve that prospect’s value (which, yes, includes trade value). If you’re a quality shortstop or center fielder by trade, moving to a lesser defensive position (say, 3B or LF, respectively) can be accomplished in a relatively short time. See, for example, Manny Machado taking over at third base immediately for the Orioles after not having really played it much in the minors.
  • McLeod says the leap between High-A and AA is the biggest in the minors, and it’s where some guys really get separated (because “at that point, you’re really just a phone call away from the big leagues”).
  • Hyde couldn’t say enough good things about the Baez/Almora/Soler trio, saying they have off the charts tools, etc. He also said they’ve been working out in Miami (though obviously Baez was in Chicago for the last week), and all are in great shape.
  • Hyde also defended Vitters, saying he was great in AAA at a young age in 2012, and his call-up actually helped him learn some things (speaking of preserving value … ).
  • McLeod said that new Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson is a proponent of long toss, but he isn’t married to it. Johnson recognizes that long toss isn’t for every pitcher, and the program has to be tailored to the individual.
  • Bohringer said that, if Arodys Vizcaino comes back to where he was pre-Tommy John surgery, he’s going to be a huge part of the Cubs going forward.
  • Hyde says that Dan Vogelbach has been in Arizona, working on his body. But he noted that Vogelbach is actually a very athletic young man, who could wind up being a good one defensively. He mentioned the possibility of a move off of first base (though no position was mentioned, you’d have to assume the only other plausible option is left field (again, I think this was more about preserving value than an actual belief that Vogelbach can become a passable left fielder or a quality first baseman)).
  • Hyde suggested that the Cubs don’t have any kind of hardline position on the age at which a prospect is called up, but he emphasized that the big leagues are very challenging physically. A player tends to tell you by his performance when he’s ready, Hyde said.
  • The inclusion of Vitters and Rusin on the panel was interesting, given their relative (perceived) status in the organization. Was it a reflection of them being better thought-of than we have been led to believe? Was it merely a matter of scheduling convenience? Probably something on that end of the spectrum. Each said he was working on his core strength, by the way, to last longer in the season.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

181 responses to “The ‘Down on the Farm’ Panel at the Cubs Convention: Baez, Vogelbach, Vizcaino, Vitters, More”

  1. Colocubfan

    Brett,
    Everyone has their own opinion I’m sure, but what do you feel is the biggest restriction currently on Wrigley Field that could help if relaxed?
    I, personally, have always wondered how those rooftop guys get away with their unobstructed seating. I know the Cubs get a cut, but not a huge one as I understand it.

    1. Jono

      more night games?

      1. Andrew

        I would say more weekday night games could make a significant difference.

  2. Edwin

    I understand that Vitters is “young” for AAA only being 22-23, but how does his minor league experiance compare to other prospects at AAA? In 5-6 seasons he’s had over 2000 PA. After that many PA, is there reason to be optimistic that he’ll show much more improvement? I’m just wondering how likely it is for Vitters to still devlope. Part of me thinks that if he hasn’t gotten it by now, we’ve probably seen the most he has to offer, which is poor man’s Jeff Baker.

    1. Marc N.

      Agreed with he initial point about his relative experience at 22/23, though I think he can be better than Jeff Baker.

    2. Kyle

      First, there’s a ton of data that says that age relative to league is a huge indicator of a prospect’s future. I’ve seen nothing that discounts that because of experience. Starting young as a pro is a good thing, not something to check against him.

      More to the point, why the implication that he hasn’t shown progress? He’s shown a ton of improvement. His AAA season was his best in years, and even his walk rate has been going up for awhile now. What more do you need to see to believe he has “gotten it”?

      1. Luke

        I’m in complete agreement. Vitters, particularly when you factor in that wrist injury from 2011, has actually played pretty well over the last twelve months. He has made progress. He has shown more patience. He has shown improved power. He has improved his defense.

        He is, at worst, a very useful 1B/3B/OF righthanded bat off the bench guy. He could be starting third base material. He needs another half a season or so in Iowa, but the value here is real.

        I don’t buy that the Cubs are just talking him up to preserve value. Guys who hit like he did in Triple A at the age of 22 don’t need the front office to preserve their value.

        1. Kyle

          There’s a tiny, secret little part of me that hasn’t given up on him winning the 3b job out of spring.

        2. MightyBear

          Luke,

          You and Brett have also pointed out many times that Vitters was a kid that took a while longer to adjust to the next level every time he move up. But when he got it, he stuck and played pretty well. Folks, please remember that the kid is 22. He’s probably got 4-5 years before he plays his best baseball barring injuries of course.

          1. Earl Cunnigham

            All,
            Completely agree with those defending Vitters. After hearing about all of the work that the new regime done to revamp the way that the Cubs develop prospects, I’ll bet that 2012 was the first year that Vitters was really coached. If he listens to the new group and makes the necessary changes, we could all be very surprised by his future (in a good way).
            Earl

  3. Jono

    Right now this may seem like a crazy idea, but when/if Baez and V-bach are ready for the bigs, would (and could) the Cubs trade both Castro and Rizzo for like 3 or 4 front-end rotation prospects? Please, go easy on me if this is really a crazy, dumb idea

    1. Norm

      Impossible to answer….that’s a question for 2016.

      1. Jono

        Thanks for going easy on me. One year at a time, I guess. No one knows what the future brings

        1. Bwa

          If Castro or rizzo are as good as we hope them to be and become perennial all stars, at the age they will be once of them woul be worth at least 3 top prospects. Then again, trading vogelbach or Baez will probably make more sense if they are blocked.

          1. TheRiot2

            Preserving value would mean maximum value in trade for players like Vogelbach and Baez which won’t happen till they’ve proved their worth in the bigs. Players like Rizzo and even Jackson and Vitters might entice teams to give equal value in return.

    2. RickyP024

      Is that something that the FO would want to do? Those are (arguably) the two most important players in the franchise, and both are still on the rise in terms of their progression. Why not keep them around the organization for the next 10 years and use them as the foundation of the franchise?

    3. Edwin

      You’d probably get more value trading Baez and V-bach, since they’d be younger and have more team control. Castro already has a long term deal, and by the time you know if Baez and V-bach are ready for MLB Rizzo will probably start to become more expensive.

      Both Castro and Rizzo are good players, so unless Baez and V-Bach are clearly better players, I think it would make more sense for the Cubs to trade Baez and V-Bach for young MLB ready talent (Such as a Justin Upton mold), rather than trading MLB talent for more prospects.

    4. Andrew

      I would also say that when Baez becomes ready, they’ll be more likely to move one of he or Castro to 2nd or 3rd and play both of them. I don’t see them moving Castro or Rizzo for years… they are the core. But you could move an up-and-coming shortstop to help round your infield.

      1. Marc N.

        I’m 90% on the Baez for 2B trail and the other 10% on the trade Baez for young MLB talent train.

        Something like that…those are the options for me.

        1. Jason

          Marc Baez is a better defender than Castro at SS. So why would you move him to 2B. If anything Castro would be moved there. As for trading Beaz are you CRAZY!!! He’s young so why would you want to trade him for young talent makes no since bro.

          1. Kyle

            Baez is not a better defensive SS than Castro right now.

            Might he be in a few years? It’s possible, but it would have to involve Castro stagnating and Baez reaching his defensive ceiling.

          2. Luke

            Baez is not better than Castro at short.

            Castro’s range alone makes him a cut above.

            1. Kevin Gallo

              But Baez instincts are better. That being said I have a feeling Baez will end up in LF and RF.

              1. Roughrider

                You’ve got to be really fast to cover left and right field.

              2. jayrig5

                But neither is a finished product defensively; I think it’s far too early to judge who will be better where in the field. If pressed on the issue, I’d point to the fact that Castro has held down the position in the majors for almost three full seasons, as well as to the point that scouts thought Baez was more likely to be moved from SS originally (indicating a lower ceiling at the position.) In the end it really doesn’t matter, and it’s a good problem to have, as long as Baez’s bat can develop into something close to what we’re all dreaming of right now.

            2. Marc N

              Corner outfield is the very last place they will try him at, and there’s less chance than anywhere but maybe catcher or 1B that he ends up there.

          3. Marc N

            I do not thing Baez is the better defender than Castro right now, nor do I think he will ever pass him.

        2. Scotti

          Baez doesn’t have the skill set to be a good 2B. He does have the skill set for 3B and maybe short. He is quick instead of fast. Second base needs fast ballplayers to run down slowly hit balls. SS and 3B need to be quick to get to the hard hit balls on that side.

          1. King Jeff

            I disagree on most of this. Second and short command a fairly similar skill set, and Baez would do well at either. I also disagree that he doesn’t have the speed to handle second. He passes the eye test speed-wise in the field for most scouts and he had 24 steals in less than 300 ab’s last year, which is at least an outlier that he as some speed.

            1. Scotti

              First, I didn’t say that he doesn’t have the speed for second. I said he it’s quicker than he is fast–his strength as a player is his quickness. He has decent speed but no one would call him a burner. Second, quickness is VERY important in stealing bases (and the lack of quickness is the reason why some very fast guys have poor SB%). Third, right-handed hitters out number left-handed hitters 2 to 1. As such, ground balls hit to the pull field for a RHH outnumber those of the LHH 2 to1. As such, SS see more hard hit balls than a second baseman (for the same reason 3B is called the hot corner while 1B isn’t). So the defensive requirements for SS and 2B differ. A player who is fast but not exceptionally quick can be a stellar 2B because he can outrun slowly hit balls (Sandberg). A player who it’s quick but not exceptionally fast can be a standout SS (A younger Bowa). Neither player would have been exceptional at the other position.

              1. King Jeff

                “First, I didn’t say that he doesn’t have the speed for second.”

                “Baez doesn’t have the skill set to be a good 2B. He is quick instead of fast. Second base needs fast ballplayers to run down slowly hit balls.”

                You said he doesn’t have the skill to be a good 2b, then said he’s quick instead of fast(speed?), then you said a 2b needs fast players to run down slowly hit balls, which I took to imply that Baez wasn’t fast enough to play second. If I understood your original statement wrong, I apologize.

                1. Scotti

                  Baez’s skill set is not ideal for 2B. Just as Sandberg didn’t have an ideal skill set for SS but he could have been passable there.

          2. Marc N.

            I do not understand how you can have the skills for SS and not for 2B. A SS in his youth should be able to handle 2B with relative ease.

            He’s the right size for a 2B, don’t really buy that he can be both quick and fast but not 2B quick or fast, the arm would play up on 2Bs and today’s top 2B have SS arms like Barney or the very strong armed Cano.

            I think Baez physically resembles Cano and will fill out much like Cano has to around 6’1″-6’2″ 215-225 of brickhouse. Cano makes it work defensively (he’s a GG caliber 2B) without any flash or flare about it, as did Chase Utley. This is the same position where Mark Bellhorn and Todd Walker were multi-year starters at 2B for the Cubs. Defense is not my worry with Baez at 2B, I really just need his bat to translate and hope the organization agrees (if they don’t trade him for a better bet for a long term starter).

      2. Jono

        It is exciting to think about a Castro, Baez and Rizzo infield…not to mention some assets we have for 2B, either in a Gold Glover or a possible lead off man in Watkins.

        1. Marc N.

          The Watkins/Torreyes/Amaya 2B prospect group does nothing for me. If Baez was a 2B prospect he would be the unanimous #1 guy there in all the minors.

          1. Abe Froman

            He is the #1 prospect in our system so that kind of goes without saying, but I hear you 2nd base is a big mystery projecting things as they stand.

            1. Marc N

              I meant the whole minor leagues of all 30 teams. Think I got one of the former perts out there to say that if I can find it.

          2. Scott

            Part of this is because many future MLB 2nd basemen are playing SS in the minor leagues right now.

  4. Jeff1969

    I get the feeling that Rizzo is here long term if he continues to produce. The FO really likes him as a person & a player & I don’t blame them. Castro yes, I could see him going though I think he FO values him highly & if he was dealt it would be as the major piece going in a trade for a guy like Stanton or Price or someone like that.

  5. jzuniga

    Put lake in left and v bach at 3 rd…

    1. Colocubfan

      Vogelbach would have less range at 3rd than Ron “Penguin” Cey did, and that wasn’t much!

      1. Tom

        yeah – but we almost won the pennant with the Penguin! :)

    2. truthhurts

      Or, we can hope for the NL DH to have taken effect.

  6. Marc N.

    This is pretty pointless considering where things are, but Jeimer Candelaio could be just as legit a threat to Rizzo as Vogelbach is by the time 2016 rolls around.

  7. Rizzo 44

    I think the Cubs have to find a way to trade for Upton. He is 25 and about to start his Prime years. If a team like the Cubs gave up Baez and Garza to the Dback I think it would be a win for both sides. Upton may just need a new start and maybe then we could see what all he can do. I think 30HRs 100RBIs and 285-300 AVG is possible from Upton on a year to year bases. I think he would be great in Chicago at Wrigley. Just my opinion.

  8. Demarrer

    It really is exciting knowing we could potentially be fielding 3 stud offensive players in the infield (Baez, Castro, Rizzo), all of whom could be under the age of 25. Something people don’t tend to think about is all three of those guys could be gold glove caliber at their positions. The Cubs could potentially have a devastating infield. The scary part is, two of our top 3 prospects are outfielders. This team, if we get some pitching, could be really really good for a really long time.

  9. college_of_coaches

    I’m a little leary about Bohringer’s statement regarding a starting pitcher’s frame. One of the worst trades in the history of the Dodgers (Pedro Martinez to the Expos for Delino DeSheilds) was precipitated because Tommy Lasorda thought Pedro was too small to have sustained success as a starter.

    1. Adventurecizin' Justin

      Pedro was no doubt an extreme exception to the rule. In most instances, however, a pitcher’s frame is a very important attribute to long-term success.

      1. BluBlud

        maybe you are talking about some one like tim lincecum

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Or Randy Johnson. Or any number of successful pitchers who were far from bulky. I think that the issue is that people confound aerobic and anaerobic stamina. A solid frame is good for the former, but largely irrelevant to the latter: and most of what “tires” a pitcher’s arm is the latter.

  10. BluBlud

    Vogelbach is the Future of the Cubs. He will be their best hitter once he gets there. Like I have said numerous times, he is extremely more athletic then he is given credit for. I don’t know if left field would really be an option or not, but the guy can mash. There is no doubt in my mind that he has more offensive upside then Rizzo or Baez. Defense will tell the story. From everything I’m hearing away from legitmate sources in reports, not fans, is that he is a very underrated defensive first baseman. If he mashes with the bat like I think he can, and plays even average defense, then hopefully he will be the everyday first baseman here. I love Rizzo as our first baseman, but I like Vogelbach better.

  11. Luke

    I’m not prepared to write Vogelbach off as a terrible defender at first. He’s got the athleticism and work ethic to be near league average over there; it’s going to come down to his range. We may be a season or so away from knowing whether or not he actually is nothing but a pure DH like so many seem to assume he is.

    Left field I do find a stretch. He’d have to get very good jumps and make excellent reads to be a quality left fielder.

    1. BluBlud

      I glad to see someone agree with me. You are probably not as high on Vogelbach as I am, but it’s good to see you agree that he has the potential to play firstbase defensively

    2. Kyle

      I really don’t think he has the athleticism to be league average, even at first. His work ethic might get him to acceptably bad, but the range will never be there.

      1. BluBlud

        Kyle, just curious. Have you seen him play. Every report says this guy is pretty athletic. I think he has more then enough range, and a decent enough glove. Granted, I’ve only seen highlite of him playing, so I’m going mostly by what I have read from people who watch him on a fegular enough basis or who receive their info from scouts who have seen him play.

        1. Kyle

          You’ve got some confirmation bias going. This is the problem with prospect creep. We remember what we want to remember (usually the best possible reports), not everything that was said.

          There have been a ton of bad reports on Vogelbach’s athleticism. Most of the good ones are on a curve, saying stuff like “He’s more athletic than you’d think for his size,” which is basically just saying they are amazed a tub of goo like that can run first to third at all.

          Here’s a recent scouting report:

          http://baseballprospectnation.com/2012/08/15/scouting-report-dan-vogelbach-1b/

          “Fielding: Poor. Unathletic. Doesn’t move well around the bag, though scouts report he has improved. Still a well below-average defender. Fall-down range on ground balls and will struggle picking low throws. Lacks mobility to come off the bag and get errant throws from infielders. Defense has little potential for improvement aside from better hands on balls hit/thrown directly at him. Grade – 30/40″

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            We should remember that before DHs, lots of teams had guys called Moose, Boog, Hoss and other affectionate terms for “tub of goo” playing first, and more than making up with their 6-Richter fall downs with power and OBP. Often they still developed good hands for scooping throws, too.

            We might hope for that much!

            1. Kyle

              Absolutely. I’m not saying Vogelbach might not have a bright future. I’m saying that the creeping praise for his athleticism doesn’t seem to be mirrored by non-partisan sources.

              1. Marc N

                I hate prospect creep too, and I think Vogelbach at another position is ridiculous.

                OTOH, since he’s drafted I’ve said he is an underrated athlete with the potential to not be a butcher at 1B.

              2. blublud

                Vogelbach might have one of the best bats in the minors, so his future is very bright. I just think he can play 1B defensively and not be bad. I don’t think he will ever win a gold glove. But an average defensive 1B that can possibly hit .300/.400/.600/.1000 35 2B 50 HR 120 RBI doesn’t have to be a gold glover. I don’t know if he could reach those Pujols/Fielder/Braun numbers, but I think he has that kind of patience and power potential.

                1. Kygavin

                  One of the best bats in the minors is just absurd. He wasnt even a top 5 prospect for the Cubs according to BA but he is one of the best bats in the minors? nah

                  1. Kyle

                    There’s a lot of Cubs fans hanging around the internet, including here, whose opinions I would take over BA’s lists.

                    It’s not quite as insane as it sounds on its surface. His .469 wOBA was 6th in the minors last season. Sickels had him as a top-50 position prospect, and it sure wasn’t for his glove.

                    1. Kygavin

                      Top bat implies a guy like Myers, Profar, Tavares. Vog isnt close to those guys especially considering the expectations on offense at 1B

                    2. King Jeff

                      It’s pretty funny that you put a guy with a .817 minor league ops at the same levels as Vogelbach on that list and then say that Vogelbach’s bat can’t compare.

                    3. King Jeff

                      Looking closer, Vogelbach outperformed every one of those guys at the same ages/levels.

                    4. Kyle

                      If we’re just going by bat, Profar doesn’t belong on that list. He’s a great prospect (although a bit overhyped as a No. 1 by default, imo), but it’s not because of his bat, which is good but not great.

                      In 2011 at 18, Profar put up an .883 OPS in A. In 2012 at 18, Vogelbach put up a 1.051 OPS in R/A-.

                      Vogelbach might be a better hitter than Profar is right now, despite being a year younger and several levels behind.

                      Sure, once you start to bring defense and positional adjustments into it, his stock slips significantly. But on pure, basic offensive ability? Yeah, Vogelbach can probably shoulder his way into the conversation.

                    5. Kygavin

                      Profar is also younger than Vog and is MLB ready.
                      Myers was also at a more advanced level at the same age and had close numbers
                      Tavares was also at a more advanced level and put up similar numbers, less power but his OBP was 40 points higher

                      People are overreacting to numbers in low A ball

                    6. Kyle

                      Both Myers and Tavares spent their entire age 18 season at rookie ball. Neither played at a higher level at the same age than Vogelbach. In fact, it was Vogelbach who hit at a higher level at the same age.

                    7. Kygavin

                      Vogelbach was also 19 last year and both of them were at more advanced levels than he was at the same age

                    8. King Jeff

                      “Vog isnt close to those guys”

                      That was your original statement, now it’s that these guys had similar numbers.

                    9. Kyle

                      Derp, I was thinking Vogelbach was 17 when drafted. Carry on…

                    10. Kygavin

                      Look at what the top bats are doing now in higher levels only being a few years older. That to me is no where close. If Vogelbach puts up numbers like Tavares did last year in AA then we can count him as a top bat. To me its just too early to put that tag on him since he has had 168 ABs above Rookie ball

          2. Spriggs

            This report you linked to jibes with what I have seen personally on the field.

            I also love your comment about the quality of the compliments thrown his way – “…runs well from 1st to 3rd for a tub of lard..” epic, man.

            Now I absolutely love his bat… but Vogie is NOT athletic.

      2. Marc N.

        Agreed on his range. I think he’s got it in him to be good at picking throws in the dirt and handling the balls hit within his phone booth range. A ball between him and Matt Garza would bring the Apocalypse.

  12. Kyle

    A lot of that is just hype. It’s always easy to hype defense, especially, because it’s hard to double-check against facts.

    I think it’s interesting that they seem to be laying the groundwork for aggressive promotion of the position prospects. They’ve backed off/clarified the “one level per year” idea as only applying to pitchers, saying position players “let you know when they are ready.”

  13. Fastball

    I think it is great to have a few players we can all have a vision for. The Vogelbach’s,and so on. I won’t get the cart before the horse on these guys. They have so much to prove at too many levels of minor league ball to get as excited as some get. Projecting where a kid is going to play when he hasn’t gotten to Kane County is a bit pre-mature. Even Baez getting to High A in Daytona, he didn’t have any playing time there. This year will tell a lot more.
    I think Vitters needs to be the everyday 3b at AAA this season. We just need to let him breath. He has made adjustments at every level and continued to move up. He was in brand new system last year. Kids his age need to have time to adjust. He probably had too many voices in his head. It’s hard to put all of that together and play above expectations everyday. Same thing happened to Castro last year. They are changing him, resculpting him from what kind of player he was when he came up to the kind of player they think he should be. Castro’s hitting fell off last year because they were forcing him to change at the big league level and it was probably the first time in his young life he had to deal with any change in his approach or make up. He is going from a kid who can any pitch no matter where it’s thrown to being a more selective pitch hitter. He looked lost at the pate for a long time. His natural ability made him produce what he did last year. This year I think he will be totally awesome.

  14. Fastball

    Why would Sveum be bashing Soriano and talking negatively about him? Saying his knee’s are terrible and all. I don’t understand why he would make such comments. I am still not sold on this guy as the head coach going into the future. He did some good things last year. But he was pretty bad at times as well. I don’t want to get negative on him. I hope Theo told him to drink a can of shut the F up.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Um, wasn’t Sveum extolling Sori for doing so well despite the gimpy knees? In some quarters, that is considered high praise.

      In nearly all quarters, however, it is called bad salesmanship!

      1. Spriggs

        My guess is – he’ll learn from this mistake. Or at least he better!

  15. DPRagen

    Fastball

    My guess is Sveum is trying to discourage trade offers to keep him with the Cubs. He is their only power hitter.

    1. Dick McCheesedoodle

      Are opposing teams scouting fan fest news reports for helpful bits of knowledge?

      “Hey, we should make a trade for so and so… says here he’s in the best shape of his life”

      Meta…..

    2. itzscott

      Seriously??…

      What could Sveum say that other scouts and GMs don’t already know about Soriano?

      1. Dick McCheesedoodle

        Next step is pitchers making scouting reports out of postgame interviews.

        “Whoa, did you see here where Josh Hamilton said he was just trying to put it in play when the count was 0-2? Let’s remember that for the next time we face him.”

        “I read the other day where Girardi thought Joba had one more batter in him but was wrong.. now we’ve got him right were we want him”

  16. Todd McCombs

    I do not get the Vitters thing – watched him at Iowa (he looked great)- the kid can hit – In Chicago last year they put him up against the best pitchers almost like they wanted him to fail. Gave him huge breaks in between playing him and never let him settle in to see what he could do.

    Now he isn’t a prospect anymore ????- Cubs better re look at this kid – young and going to make big head way this year.

    1. Rich H

      I think personally that they put him in position to struggle for a reason. There was talk that he was not listening to coaching and was getting a swelled head from his success at AAA. If that was true then you put him in a position where he has to see what it is you are saying. So while you think it is ruining a prospect (and he is still a prospect). It actually can help him develop better habits. You as a coach or a manager have to try everything you can think of to get a kids attention including letting him fail his way so may be he will listen to what you think he should be doing next time.

      As a guy that has helped out on a number of High School teams with some actual heavily scouted players I will say that there is a number of ways to get a young mans attention and this is one of them. Not my favorite by far because it is a fine line to walk with a kids confidence but it is an approach to a problem.

  17. LarryJ

    Maybe this has been mentioned before, but if so I missed it. Any truth to the rumor that V-bomb has lost nearly 40 lbs this off-season? If so is a change in position more a possibility?

  18. ruby2626

    I realize Rizzo is potentially a golden glove guy but if Vogelbach is really such an incredible hitter with his high OBP skills then maybe he should be the one to move to left. He’s not a burner but he’s not slow either. Seems like a lot of guys can play both positions easily, Todd Helton and Lance Berkman come immediately to mind. Vogelbach this season is as important as any of the Cub minor leaguers, if he continues to impress he could be a major piece in a Price or Stanton trade.

    Changing topics seems like the Cub sources of revenue are a little lower than I would like to see. Didn’t sound like there was any mention of opting out of the Comcast contract early which pays the Cubs way, way, way below market value. Also be nice if Ricketts didn’t have to foot the bill solely on his own for the $300M rehab, other teams get help, why not us.

    1. Dan W

      Guys like Vogelbach are the reason the NL needs too, and I believe will; ADD THE DH.

      1. blublud

        I actually think it’s the other way around. I would like to see both play under the same format, but if something changes, then I think the AL should get rid of the DH. If you wanna be a pro, you be able to play from both sides. I know, however, that it will more then likely be the NL adopting the AL.

        1. Seth

          There is no way the player’s union would accept to get rid of the DH position in the AL. Too many jobs would be lost. It’s only a matter of time before the NL adopts the DH.

          1. Toby

            The DH’s position of the roster will be replaced with a more rounded player. Its not like jobs will be lost. I’d rather see the 25 man become a 26 man roster, with the NL being able to stock a DH/PH and the AL add another position player or pitcher. IT will still favor the AL, but the edge would diminish.

            1. dabynsky

              You are right that the same number of major league jobs, but it is an exta starting position that will be lost. That is why the union will never agree to removing the DH. There is no way the DH is going away.

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              Also, the DH does not exist to let “unrounded” players bat. It exists to prevent us from having to endure at bats by the most highly specialized players of all: pitchers.

    2. blublud

      I agree on Rizzo. I definitely think he COULD play LF if he needed to.

      On the Ricketts footing the Bill. If the City relaxes the restriction, Ricketts has an opportunity to make that $300 million back and then a lot more. So from his stand point, he would prefer the restriction be lifted instead of financial assistance because of the opportunity for profit. Brett said in a previous article that the Jumbotron along could produce $50 million a year. Well Ricketts can pay off his stadium renovations in 6 years with just that, and every year after is revenue that can be used to help field a better team. Thats not mentioning the other opportunities to increase revenue. Like I said, the Ricketts are not dumb when it comes to building a business. They know very well what they are doing.

      1. Jono

        The Ricketts may have played Emanuel like a fiddle. They may have proposed that super pac ad just to piss of Emanuel, making him oppose the idea of funding the stadium renovations. That gives the Ricketts leverage to make the argument that if the city isn’t going to help them, they should then lift the restrictions that hinder them which, like you said, is even more profitable than getting the city help. Otherwise, if the city doesn’t lift the restrictions, the team could leave the city. Emanuel would never let that happen. They’d lift the restrictions before letting the team leave. Emanuel made a costly mistake by letting his partisan emotions get the better of him

  19. Todd McCombs

    V-bomb needed to lose weight – He had ballooned over 280 – People who saw him last year said – real slow on the base paths – below average fielder at 1st – Best hitter in the cubs system.

  20. Demarrer

    We need to stop talking about Vogelbach like he is a future superstar on offense. He is in the low low minor leagues, and can only really do one thing well. We really need to halt our expectations of this kid until he starts producing in double A. That is when you can start getting truly excited.

    1. JulioZuleta

      Yeah, such is the offseason though. I do remember last May/June when he was hitting about .120 in EXST and people were overreacting to that as well. He looks promising, but may be getting slightly overrated by our own fan base (shocking). He is the one prospect in baseball that could compete for a batting title just by hitting his own weight, though.

      1. Spriggs

        Haha, Good one, Zuleta!

    2. Westbound Willie

      If the guy was 6 foot 180 nobody would even know who he is.

      1. blublud

        I guess the same can probably be said about Pujols, Fielder, David Ortiz, Mark McGuire, Babe Ruth and a whole host of others.

        Hey, but if Tony Campana was 6 foot 180 lbs, maybe he would be an All-Star. LMAO

  21. DaveY

    While I didn’t go to the convention and didn’t see the panel but I am guessing Vitters and Rusin were choosen because…

    1. They could be expected to handle speaking publicly at the Cubs convention reasonably well as representatives of the Cubs organization. This is by far the biggest reason.

    2. They are still considered prospects with a decent chance to contribute in 2013.

    3. They accepted the offer to be on the panel.

    4. scheduling convience.

    Other than family issues(wedding, birth of a child, death of family member…) I don’t see what could be on either player’s schedule that could prevent them from attending the convention. I don’t see this as a sign that the Cubs view them more highly than any of the statements or actions regarding the two in the past. To view their selection to the panel as some kind of secret hint that the Cubs are internally expecting anything more than what they have stated publicly about these two is pure unsubstantiated, overly optimistic speculation.

    1. Spriggs

      I suspect that Vitters is quite low on the internal “dynamic speaker” list. Quite low.

  22. dash

    DH? I’d hate to see the rules of baseball altered to accommodate guys like Vogelbach, who aren’t capable of playing all aspects of the game at a major league level.

    1. davidalanu

      How about a rule that states that a player can only DH “X” number of games in a season. Maybe 81. He can either be a pinch hitter the other 81 or have to play a position.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Why bother doing this? The point of the DH is to stop pitchers from humiliating mankind when aliens pick up transmissions of baseball games in space. It’s not about the hitters, so why worry about who does it?

  23. blublud

    Does anyone know what website I can go to and view the minor league stats for players such as Pujols, Fielder, Braun and others. Everytime I type “MILB” or “minor league stats” with their name, it gives me their major league stats.

    1. Kygavin

      baseballreference.com. theres a button that you can click for minor leaue stats right above the year category on their MLB stats

    2. Drew7

      Baseball-reference.com

      click on any players name and there will be a link to his MiLB stats.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        On that topic, every time I see Pujols’ miLB stats, I always do a double take. How many other guys have gone through the entire miLB in one year?

        1. college_of_coaches

          Lance Dickson? (Sorry, had to go there -)

  24. Dougy D

    I saw Vogelbach play first base last summer in Boise, and he didn’t look that bad. It looked like he had quick reaction time. I think that some of the naysayers need to relax. If I recall, Starlin Castro looked pretty bad at SS his first year+ at the MLB level. I would be willing to guess that Vogelbach could be a better left fielder than Soriano, with not knowing about his throwing arm. I could see him easily covering more ground and being a better hitter. The one thing I do know, is that he had an electric bat the night I saw him play. And from what I read of Luke’s minor league articles over the playing season, it wasn’t just that night.

    1. Kyle

      Yeah, sorry, but that’s pretty crazybuckets. Vogelbach is not a better LFer than Soriano.

      1. Dougy D

        I think that the only thing that Soriano has going for him in left is that he will make some really nice throws. As far as getting to the ball goes, he is definitely below average. Don’t forget about all of the balls that he has dropped over the years. Last year was a phenomenal year for him in comparison to previous years. Hopefully it stays that way. I haven’t seen Vogelbach play LF at all, but I have a feeling that he would cover more ground. Given that the first year he makes a switch (if it happens) from the right side of the infield to the left side of the outfield, it will likely be a difficult transition. But then again, who knows. He may not even be able to make a solid throw from the warning track to his cutoff man. Or, he may excel at that postition.

        1. Kyle

          You might as well say “I have a feeling that Darwin Barney is really good at hitting home runs” or “I have a feeling that Tony Campana could be a 98 MPH pitcher if we converted him.”

          What you are saying is so far removed from reality that I’m not really sure how to get across to you how, well, out in left field it is, pardon the expression.

          1. Dougy D

            I guess it is just like saying that a good shortstop should have an easy transition to 3B. You don’t actually know until they are given a chance to try it. I have seen Baez look good at SS, but that doesn’t mean he can play a decent 3B. This is a theoretical discussion. It’s almost like you think that Soriano is a good LFer.

            1. Kyle

              No, it’s not like that. It’s like asking if a fat tub of goo who has “fall-down range” at 1b can move to a harder defensive position where ability is defined by range.

              We do know before he’s given a chance to try that he absolutely can’t. He can’t.

              Vogelbach would be the worst LFer in recent memory. He might be able to be a little better than the Todd Hundley in LF experiment that had the whole world laughing, but probably not.

              And while I do think Soriano has been an average defensive LFer for quite some time, and good in his early days as a Cub, it’s irrelevant. Because even if he’s bad, he’s bad on an ordinary scale. Vogelbach in LF would be so awful that “bad” doesn’t begin to describe it. It’d be like shifting Matt Garza to SS and batting him third. I don’t need to see it to know he can’t do it.

              1. Dougy D

                You do know how Garza bats, therefore you know he isn’t good enough to bat third. And you have seen him throw from the mound to 1B, so you know that he wouldn’t last at SS. It sounds like you hate tubby people too much to even consider that they could be good at anything. What if Vogelbach slims down? Then can he get a shot at left? He isn’t that fat. It’s like you think he is a 36 year old Cecil Fielder.

                1. Kyle

                  His range at 1b is so bad that it’s described as “fall-down” range. He literally can only get to balls that he could fall down to reach. He’s also a 20 runner. He can’t play LF anymore than Garza could play SS.

                  Vogelbach can’t lose too much weight, because that’s where his power comes from. I love tubby people who can hit 40 home runs. I’m just not silly enough to think they can play the outfield.

    2. King Jeff

      I agree. I’ve seen him play a few times and he seems very light on his feet for a big guy. I don’t think his defense is going to be an issue until he starts getting up there in age. There is a pretty good history of players with bad bodies that have excelled at the game; Gwynn, Puckett, both Fielders, Babe Ruth, Mo Vaughn, John Kruk(admittedly not all perfect comparisons). I don’t see his size being a problem, especially considering how hard of a worker Vogelbach has been since high school.

      1. Kyle

        Several of the players you mentioned were excellent athletes at Vogelbach’s age. They just get remembered as being overweight for their later years.

        1. King Jeff

          Thus the disclaimer in parenthesis. The point was that just because he’s overweight, doesn’t mean he can’t be a passable defender and productive starter. From what I’ve seen he’s a pretty good athlete, although I have only seen him a handful of times.

          1. Kyle

            You’re mentally grading on a curve when you see him, I suspect.

            He’s a terrible athlete. He’s a surprisingly decent athlete for his size, but his size is generally associated with completely terrible athletes.

            His bat can certainly overcome that, of course. I’m on board with you there.

            1. Dougy D

              Would you call Soriano a great athlete? He has struggled in the field his whole career. Last year he was passable, but never before, at least as a Cub.

              1. King Jeff

                I think Soriano was a great athlete until his injuries caught up to him. Great athlete doesn’t equal great fielder though.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  I suspect that there are a lot of pentathlon winners who would really stink at fielding, especially in the outfield. The ability to judge in a fraction of second where a ball is going to land is a fairly specific talent that is quite independent of most (if not all) athletic talents. If you can do that well, then you could be a fat tub of goo and do OK (well, for an inning or two before you passed out); if you cannot, then it doesn’t matter what else you do well, you are not going to field very well.

                  1. Kyle

                    I think you’re overstating matters quite a bit. Reaction time may be a significant modifier, but speed is still a significant component in range as well.

              2. Kyle

                Soriano was an excellent athlete in his prime, now with the leg injuries he’s merely an average one.

                He’s a much better defensive LFer than you think he is. He’s been more than passable as a Cub, but sometimes fans can’t see beyond annoying quirks or the occasional fantastic botch.

                1. Dougy D

                  I hate to go there, but I think it’s time to go the agree to disagree route. Maybe it is clouded by how I was always astonished by the way the Cubs broke the bank for Soriano, but I never saw him as a good fielder. Last year I will give him average and maybe even a hair more than that, but for the amount of space he covers I can’t give him any more than that.

            2. King Jeff

              I agree, he’s a decent athlete for his size, but sub-par at best among first base prospects. My opinion is probably a bit skewed by my fandom and in regards to comparing him to other big guys, so that’s a fair assessment.

  25. mudge

    Seems like Vogelbach has a shot to be an ideal DH, or a barely adequate first baseman. Hmmmm….

  26. King Jeff

    Missed that part, agree with everything but Vogelbach being a better outfielder than Soriano.

  27. Dustin S

    Vitters looked as overmatched last season as a person could have been, and his winter ball didn’t go well either. He’s not a player I see turning into the Jeff Baker type. I think either he’ll (hopefully) have a path like Rizzo and learn from his call-up problems and adjust, or he’ll be out of baseball in a couple years. Looking at his minor league numbers, on the positive side he does have a history of struggling at almost each new level the first season after being called up and then doing much better the following year. So he has adjusted before. As for the convention, VItters was a involved in it last year, so it probably just made it easy to plug him back in there since he was familiar with things.

    Jackson is a little different in that even if he continues to have issues, he’s a player that another team would take a chance on to see if they could fix his swing, etc. The speed/power guys seem to bounce around a lot because hitting coaches always think that they can be the one to fix him.

  28. hutch

    Looking at 2010 draft and the pick of hayden simpson was absolutely brutal. Look at the names taken just after him. Yellich, gary brown, aaron sanchez , brentz, syndergaard, vettleson, taijaun walker, castellanos, and mike olt. Every one of those names is in the top 3 of very good systems. Simpson is gonna be lucky to be in the minors after another terrible year. Yet another great hendry pick. no wonder why the system was empty of high impact pitchers and players

    1. hutch

      zach lee too

  29. Scotti

    The same guy who picked Simpson picked our number one prospect (Baez). I’m not down on the Simpson pick, I’m down on mononucleosis. Mono is also what struck down last year’s $6,000,000.00 Cuban investment (more than triple the cost of Simpson). Here’s hoping Concepcion has a better recovery.

    1. Kyle

      Concepcion was awful before he got mono, and Simpson showed up worse than advertised before he got it as well.

      1. Scotti

        Simpson had mono when he visited Wrigley before ever playing. Google it. Concepcion’s season, as well, was blamed on mono. If not, Theo owes the Cubs six large.

        1. Kyle

          Of course his season was blamed on mono. What are they going to say?

          Either they made a laughingly terrible scouting decision, or they gave the guy $6 million to grease the Cuban wheels to help them sign Soler. They aren’t going to come out any say either of those things.

      2. Luke

        Simpson never pitched a single professional inning before coming down with mono. It is flatly impossible for him to have shown up worse than advertised before he came down with it.

        Since recovering from the disease he has definitely under-performed. No question about that.

        1. Kyle

          Guilty. You hear so much excuse-making, you start to forget that sometimes it is true.

          -15 internet points to me.

    2. Spriggs

      I wish people would stop making excuses for Simpson. Mono, got hurt coming back too soon, mono, mono, bone fracture, mono, pressure, etc… (and oh, mono). He blew when he first got to camp and over 2 years removed from mono, he still blows and wasn’t even close to topping out at 90 mph at any time with the Cubs. He was closer to 85 in 2012. He got crushed every single time I’ve ever seen him pitch competitively. If he ever was a top arm at any point in his life, that’s over. I was fine with all the wait and see up until last year. That’s done and so is he.

      1. daveyrosello

        This.

    3. AB

      I think Simpson was ranked around #150-180 going into the draft. He’d still be a huge disappointment for a 3rd-5th round draft pick.

      1. Kygavin

        Hendry saw him on a day where he was around 95 on the gun with a flithy breaker and he just dominated (according to Keith Law) which showed his potential… sad thing is that it looks like that might have been a one time thing

        1. Marc N.

          97, but I think Simpson was mostly a budget pick (as was Colvin). Cubs were very college heavy after Pawelek and Vitters (#3 overall probably a factor), which was sandwiched by the Colvin pick.

          1. Marc N.

            Now that I think about it, the Vitters pick was a budget one. Weiters was asking for big money out of college, but was the clear BPA for the pick.

            1. Kyle

              Yes and no. Wieters was very popular and one of the best players in the draft all along, but Vitters wasn’t a budget pick. He got the fifth-highest signing bonus in the draft and was genuinely considered the best high-school bat..

  30. ruby2626

    My least favorite Hendry pick was Mark Pawelek at #20, right out of high school. If I remember this guy right he could barely hit upper 80′s on his fastball. No way you should ever pick a guy like that, that high. Immediately scouts called the pick a major reach but guess Hendry had to prove how smart he was.

    Funny that his last 2 high picks were Baez and Vogelbach, took him too long to get it right I guess.

    1. daveyrosello

      Earl Fucking Cunningham. Or “Lou” Montanez. Ugh.