stovePlayers are trickling in to Spring Training sites, and official report dates start next week. While trades during Spring Training do happen, teams tend to prefer to have their roster settled by the time they collectively show up. While that doesn’t necessarily mean we could see a flurry of activity in the next two weeks, it is possible.

  • Ken Rosenthal discusses Michael Bourn’s continuing quest to find a team, with a heavy focus on the Mets (and their continuing quest to not have to give up their first round draft pick to sign him). Among the other teams Rosenthal mentions as ongoing possibilities for Bourn: the Mariners, the Rangers, and the Cubs.
  • Joel Sherman offers some thoughts that suggest Bourn’s current price on the market: Bourn is believed to be still asking for five years and $75 million, but, according to Sherman, teams may be reluctant to go to even four years on him. The Mets have “hinted” at a willingness to go to four years, though. And Bourn’s agent, Scott Boras, is probably going to feel compelled to get at least four years and $40 million, given that Angel Pagan got that much from the Giants. At 4/$40M, I sure would like to see the Cubs considering their options – and I’m not a huge Bourn fan, either. But I could see some nice surplus value there.
  • I mentioned it in the Bullets this morning, but, because it has a rumor-y bent, I’ll mention it here, too: in his interviews yesterday, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein discussed the future of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol. Essentially, he said the Cubs would continue to consider trade proposals for those two (well, they’d consider trade proposals for anyone), but, so far, no one has stepped up with an offer that was sufficiently attractive to make them pull the trigger (except the Dan Haren trade, I suppose). Theo used words like “right now” and “we’re happy.” Cutting right through to the bone, I think the point is this: the Cubs are ready to move either or both players in the right deal, and would probably like to do so.
  • If you’re thinking the Cardinals are going to be desperate for another arm now that Chris Carpenter is likely retiring, I wouldn’t be so sure. They have high-level depth unlike almost any team, and have suggested quite strongly that they’re content to go with what they have. For all we know, they’ve been suspecting the Carpenter news for a while now.
  • Bruce Levine did his chat thing yesterday, and among his thoughts: (1) the Cubs and Tigers have not discussed a Carlos Marmol/Rick Porcello swap, as much as we might wish they have – but Bruce does think Marmol has “tons” of trade value, and will be dealt before Opening Day; (2) third base is “open,” but everyone is assuming Ian Stewart will get the nod when the season rolls around; (3) if the Cubs hang onto Alfonso Soriano, at some point, age and injury are going to take their toll; (4) Bruce doesn’t think the Cubs are keen on putting Travis Wood in the bullpen; (5) there still isn’t any clarity on whether the Cubs would prefer to trade Matt Garza or extend him, and on whether Garza is open to an extension after he shows he’s healthy in the first couple months of the season; (6) the Cubs tried very hard this Winter to get either Mike Olt or Lonnie Chisenhall, but couldn’t pull it off; and (7) apparently when asked about a second lefty in the bullpen (besides James Russell), Chris Bosio mentioned Chris Rusin as a possibility and Dontrelle Willis as a long-shot (I’ve got to believe that’s a bit of Bruce editorializing – if not, you’d think Hisanori Takahashi’s name would come up looooong before Willis’s).
  • Ben

    Brett – if the Cubs could get Bourn, and no one comes after Soriano, what other OF could the Cubs deal? DeJesus?

    • Brett

      Yeah – those would be the two they’d be shopping. In fact, I don’t think the Cubs even get close to signing Bourn until/unless they already know they can deal one of Soriano or DeJesus.

      • MightyBear

        Brett, I respectfully disagree. If Bourn falls to 4/40, I think the Cubs would pull the trigger and worry about the crowded outfield after the fact.

        • JBarnes

          Then you get nothing on your return of Soriano/DeJesus. If teams know you have to trade them then they aren’t as willing to give up so much. Brett’s scenario would be the best solution if this were to happen.

          • Chad

            Agreed. There is not much benefit to signing Bourn if you are unsure of the best deal for Soriano or DeJesus.

            • Hee Seop Chode

              teams still field 3 outfielders right?

              • JBarnes

                Soriano/Bourn/DeJesus would require everyday roles which would defeat the purpose of the Schierholtz/Hairston signings. Soriano and DeJesus have the most value and are owed the most money so you attempt to trade one of them. Only way you would keep them is if Bourn put us over the to to be contenders which he doesn’t come close to doing. Really both Soriano and DeJesus could be gone at some point this year if Jackson shows he’s ready.

  • King Jeff

    Wait, Bosio said that he could see Dontrelle Willis in the pen this year?

    I have a feeling that this is going to be a crazy spring. Any word on if D-Train is going to be in the bunt tournament?

  • Jim

    I would prefer to see Rusin stay as a starter. I think Raley might make more sense out of the bullpen. If Garza isn’t dealt and all the current starters are healthy, it would be hard to see Wood stick in a starter role, but if he does that definitely has to put Villanueva in the pen.

  • Kyle

    I’ve always had this question about the upcoming draft. Why wouldn’t the Astros draft Appel #1? I’ve seen multiple people talking about the cubs potentially drafting him with the 2 pick. I mean I know anything can happen I the draft but is there any reason they wouldn’t take him at 1?

    • Marc N.

      There is not.

    • Kyle

      Sure, there could be a couple of reasons.

      They might like someone else better. They might decide they want to do a cheaper deal and save money for later picks (stupid plan, but that’s what they did last year).

      They might take him, too. It’s too early to know if he’ll be the best player available or what the Astros are thinking.

      • Marc N.


        • Kyle

          Two different Kyles.

          • DarthHater

            Uh-oh. You two guys need to find some way to differentiate yourselves. Like, one of you could be Douchebag Kyle and the other could be Nondouchebag Kyle. You can decide for yourselves which will be which. 😉

            • DB Kyle

              I think we already know the answer to that.

              • Brett

                Or you could bite the bullet and get an avatar …

                • DarthHater

                  For example:


                • DB Kyle

                  Never! I’ll register here and get an avatar the same day I acknowledge the front page on NSBB, and that’ll be a cold day in St. Louis.

                  • DarthHater

                    You don’t have to register here to have an avatar. You can give any old hotmail address to In any event, i’m satisfied with the “DB” designation. 😉

                    • Hee Seop Chode

                      Hey look! I finally registered!

                • ncsujuri

                  That’s not as easy as you seem to think Brett, I’ve put one on my profile and it only shows on the Message Boards not on these posts….I’ve also signed up with Gravatar and when I put that as my profile picture option it doesn’t show up here.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Or one of you needs a catchy icon. Might I recommend something in the robot variety?

  • Marc N.

    Saw this exchange in Parks’ chat:

    batts40 (IL): When will people realize that throwing a #2 upside on a starter is a huge compliment and not an insult?

    Jason Parks: When they detach themselves from labels and start focusing more on the specifics of the player and the process of establishing such scouting distinctions in the first place. The meat of the reports are more important than the number assigned at the end.

    The last sentence is something most people just don’t do, like the fans who 7/7zzz us to death with Vitters and now Baez.

    Parks is relatively new and I like him. Theres Cubs stuff in the chat I will eventually get to.

    • Brett

      I like Parks, too …

      • Marc N.

        His chats are making me a fan….FINALLY someone out there who agrees with me on Bauer:

        Jason S (Omaha): Did the Indians get a steal in trading for Trevor Bauer? Does he in your mind still have top or near the top of the rotation potential?

        Jason Parks: I never thought he had top of the rotation potential to begin with. I think he develops into a highly functional and highly erratic major league starter, one who flashes brillance in one outing and follows it up with a flameout. His production will ultimately decide his distinction, but calling him a future number three starter works for me.

        I have the exact same stance. Can’t stand the hype on that guy and how his flaws just get brushed aside.

      • D.G.Lang

        My dogs really like them.

    • Marc N.

      More interesting questions:

      RogerHorfford (Topeka, KS): Just evaluating, hit/power/speed tools, who’s the better prospect for you between Jorge Soler and Yasiel Puig?

      Jason Parks: The sample on Puig is extremely small, and the opinions are very mixed. I’d take Soler but both have more unknowns than knowns.

      Shawn (CT): What are a few of the biggest x-factors that scouts miss when profiling prospects (make-up, environment, lack of quality competition, etc)?

      Jason Parks: All of those are important, but for me, makeup is just as important as any of the individual tools. It starts with talent, but the ability to turn that talent into sustainable production through the process of failure and recovery/adjustment is heavily dependent on makeup.

      – I put this one because I’m an Almora homer. He also is loaded with #want.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        “Makeup” is the phlogiston of sports commentary. Most of the time when two guys that supposedly had the same “tools” have different fates, the reality is that they did not actually share the same tools, but were just producing similar numbers through different tool sets at similar levels. By attributing the difference in future “makeup,” all they do is let them keep their alchemy and continue ignoring true chemistry.

        • Marc N.

          In general I agree, but as we move into specifics on a player I think how he approaches the game, his work, is important and telling of his makeup. There’s many ways to have good and bad makeup, which convolutes the whole thing.

          • Marc N.

            …is important and telling.*

          • hansman1982

            Makeup is a complex thing. You could have 2 guys on opposite ends of the spectrum (loud, attention seeking vs. quiet) but there are some basic traits that you want a player to have such as work ethic, ability to receive instruction, resistance to failure, etc… so that they can take the tools they have and build upon them. These kinds of things will drive how you progress them through the system.

            Bryce Harper was able to handle the media and psychological pressures of the MLB spotlight at 19 so once his tools were ready he was ready to be thrown into a playoff race. Other kids may wilt under that spotlight.

            At the same time, you don’t let makeup become the end-all be-all and you accept that it comes in many different forms.

            • Spencer

              Exactly. For instance: Eye shadow, foundation, blush, lipstick, eye liner, nail polish…

              • DocPeterWimsey

                And, again, those all reflect fundamentally different tools. Lumping them altogether is just misleading: one can excel at some of those while not doing well at others. And, let’s face it: the ones who have to rely least on makeup and character undoubtedly score most easily.

                Wait, what are discussing?

              • hansman1982

                I won’t ask how you were able to rattle those off so easily…

                • D.G.Lang

                  He is a robot, it is programmed in and he doesn’t have to think about it.

      • Marc N.

        Even more:

        rangersfan (Fort Worth): Rank these ss prospects in order. Baez, Bogaerts, Correa, Russell, Hanson?

        Jason Parks: At present, Bogaerts, Baez, Correa, Russell, Hanson (but I can see any combination of Baez, Correa, Russell).

        Matt (NJ): Rank the bat speed: Gary Sheffield, Rickie Weeks, Javier Baez?

        Jason Parks: That order looks good to me, but elite bat speed is elite bat speed.

        – I have used Weeks as a comp for Baez. It was not well received, but most don’t remember how much he was raved about.

        comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): If you could pick one NL prospect from this list – which one is most likely to hit his ceiling: Almora, Puig, Dahl, Roache or Polanco?

        Jason Parks: Almora

        Matt (CHC): How has the grading scale for fastball velocity changed over the last 10 years?

        Jason Parks: Kids are throwing harder than ever, but that’s why movement and command need to receive wight in the overall FB grade. Velocity is very nice, but there is more to a person than a pretty face.

        – Yes. Why this though isn’t considered common sense and put to use more often is beyond me.

        Jason Parks: Speed is often overrated; its a catalytic tool that can enhance value, but baseball is a simple game and if you can’t hit, you can be Usian Bolt and it won’t matter. Sure, speed is fun and its easy for people to see. But its down the list for me.

        – Here because Almora’s speed is going to be a topic if it already isn’t. Easy to see is what got it here.

        AndrewBokermann (IL): Fall of his face: Vitters, consensus best HS positional talent in 2007 draft

        Jason Parks: He started to fall in his face before he reached the highest level, and hasn’t been considered a top prospect in several years.

        Casey (Memphis): Is a batter’s ability to select pitches really accounted for in the five tools? Should there be a sixth tool for knowing how to take a BB?

        Jason Parks: No; that’s a skill, not a tool. Approach plays a role in the utility of a hit tool, and I think pitch recognition skills are vital to that. But anybody can draw a walk if they keep their bat on their shoulders and step into the box against a pitcher that doesn’t throw strikes. But in the pursuit of bat-to-ball contact, a hitter that can avoid bad pitches, be they unhittable strikes or balls out of the zone, will put themselves in better offensive positions and will obtain more favorable outcomes as a result. This is the reward of a good approach, which is multi-faceted and goes beyond just talking a walk.

        The doctor was talking about this at some point.

        Jason Parks: Some players make better players than prospects. Nature of the beast. We often have evaluation bias when it comes to players like Eaton.

        – A reminder that the top 100 is not the only place to find players in the minors. I guess this is some love from the much maligned Gregorius, who is most definitely going to w one of those guys (IMO, obviously).

        Matt (NJ): do you have a personal favorite for the #1 prospect in the 2013 draft?

        Jason Parks: I don’t. Most likely a college arm

        Still not even finished…fn thing goes on forever.

  • Kyle

    It’s got to be demoralizing to the players if they get sold all offseason on how they have to work hard because the team is going to at least try to be respectable and anyone has a chance, and then in spring training we look to prospect-dump good players like Garza, Soriano, Marmol and put the team back into hopelessness before we’ve even played a game.

    We don’t have any hugely major trade chips like Garza last year (when he had two full years of control coming to him), so it’s not like we’re risking losing that much if one of them gets hurt.

    Just send out the best roster you can for the first three months. If you’re five games under and 10 games out at that point, tear it up and commence fawning over all the borderline top-100 prospects you can get in return for those guys. But maybe, just maybe your platoons work, the infield stays healthy, the “12 decent guys” approach to a pitching staff works, and you’re six games over instead and only a couple of games out. Would that be so bad?

    • DarthHater

      As far as I can tell, any discussions the FO has entertained involving Soriano or Marmol have only been for guys like Olt, Chisenhall, or Domonic Brown. Are you saying that if we could get back a young player of that caliber, it would be a “prospect dump” that would doom the 2013 season and demoralize the players?

      • Kyle

        Olt, though overrated, would be a huge overpay for Soriano or Marmol, and might be able to be an upgrade at 3b, so I’d eat it.

        But Chisenhall and Brown? Those are really marginal guys. Yeah, it’d be pointless to dump just to get them.

        • DarthHater

          Don’t forget that Chisenhall would presumably bump Stewart out of the starting lineup. Presumably that’s a big plus for you, isn’t it? 😀

          • DB Kyle

            I’m not getting my hopes up. I can think of a few dozen guys in internally that should be bumping Stewart as well, but it won’t happen.

      • Marc N.

        What caliber of young MLB player are they? Chisenhall’s the only one who’s been above average so far, though Brown has had some small success.

        They were/are highly thought of prospects (to varying degrees), but I doubt that inspires anything in the players.

        OTOH Garza so owes us prospects. Avenge Lee and Archer, Hoyer!

  • Bigg J

    Well once Garza shows he’s healthy this spring there could be a chance we send him to Texas depending on how the Cruz situation pans out, but could also send Soriano there as well.I don’t see a fit for Chisenhall though.

  • Rizzonkulous

    From what I’ve read the reason Appel wouldn’t be the first pitcher is that some feel that Manaea and Stanek have higher ceilings than Appel, but also much lower floors. I’ve also seen Austin Meadows going #1. He’s one of those ultra toolsy OF, that also happens to be lefty.

    • Patrick G

      I like Manaea for the Cubs. Stanek I’ve heard is more of a bullpen arm and Manaea is a tall, lefty with a strong arm.

  • PKJ

    Wow, it looks like Boras severely overplayed his hand.

  • North Side Irish

    Brett left out the best part about the Olt/Chisenhall response…the question was:

    “Bruce was re-signing Stewart a way to save face for one of the all time bad deals in Cub history?”

    Losing a 4th OF and utility IF is one of the all time bad deals in Cub history?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      No, no, no: Colvin earned HOF votes last June, and DJ is just an adjustment away from being Sandberg!

      • justinjabs

        DJ’s option clock and such was screwed up by bringing him up. I did like Colvin though. I am eager to see what Stewart can do now that the wrist thing has been corrected (hopefully).

    • DB Kyle

      Yes. Because Ian Stewart is just that awful.

  • North Side Irish

    Todd Helton arrested on DUI…that guy can definitely afford a cab ride. Or a cab company.

  • North Side Irish just released their Top 20 Cubs prospect list…Vogelbach fans will not be happy.

  • NCMoss

    Because neither age nor injury have taken there toll on Soriano already.

  • DPRagen

    Despite all the nonsensical chatter Soriano, for reasons that should be obvious even to Theo, is vital to the Cubs in both the short and long term.

  • Die hard

    Is Jeb also kicking the tires on Cubs as part owner given connection to Ricketts family? Infusion of cash could help

  • Die hard

    Yankees need Bourn and will pay whatever it takes

    • Patrick

      Hope they do so we can stop talking about him

  • http://yahoo Roy

    The Cubs won’t spend the money on Borne unless it’s 2 years and under 20 mil. and even then the Cubs will only be willing if anything after year one is based on club options. We have a CF and a RF that should be in place in 2014 and 2015 from our own ML system. We are drafting high this year and next. And I think Theo and company will attempt to move up if they are not in the top 3 next year. That is one of the big reasons we are amassing prospects now. Sori is going nowhere for now. This team needs his RBI’s plain and simple. With out his numbers it will make this year way to degrading on these younger developing players. We need his ability to carry a team in his streaking manor from time to time during the season. I believe the team will consider the season a success if they break the 75 win mark. If they could get career season from a couple of or upside signings. Maybe we win 80 to 85. This will help this team sign the one or two top level free agents they will need for 2014 and 2015. I believe the Cubs plan to make a serious run at the playoffs in 2014. Then an even more serious run at the World Series in 2015. I really like the way Theo is leading this club.