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brett jacksonNerd alert: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Two marathon today at the Taylor household. Yeah, buddy.

  • Patrick Mooney writes about new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer in the context of Brett Jackson’s revamped swing. I think we’re going to really appreciate Deer’s addition to the coaching staff. As for Jackson, it’s been easy to forget just how enormous of a lift an effective, productive Jackson would be to the Cubs in the next three years or more. Although his ceiling isn’t MVP-level, it is absolutely that of a perennial All-Star who plays solid center field defense (and even better in left, if it comes to that), runs the bases very well, and contributes in a variety of ways. If he can do it, and show by July that he’s ready to do it in the big leagues, the Cubs could deal David DeJesus or Alfonso Soriano for value, and potentially upgrade the overall roster simply by promoting Jackson. It would also provide another cost-controlled starter, which opens up additional dollars to supplement the roster on the free agent market. I already can’t wait for the early season to get underway so I can follow Iowa’s games, hoping Jackson is destroying opposing pitchers.
  • Dale Sveum says the earliest Ian Stewart (and Josh Vitters) will be back on the field is two weeks, but three weeks is more likely. If so, Stewart will have just two and a half weeks worth of games to impress, and cement his spot on the roster. For his part, Stewart is optimistic that, because the injury happened so early, it won’t impact his ability to make the team. “I feel like I was brought back to be part of the team and help this team and I feel like I can do that,” Stewart said, per the Tribune. “This is unfortunate. But I think if this was toward the end of camp or maybe in the middle of it, it may be a different story. It is disappointing though, because I put all that work in in the off-season and my wrist is good. To have that good first hit of camp, even if it was intrasquad …. My confidence is so high right now that this is just kind of a little roadblock.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer profiles top prospect Javier Baez in what might be one of the most enjoyable “prospect profile” type pieces I’ve read in a while. Nicely done, Gordon.
  • Reliever Blake Parker, who’s had a long comeback from a stress reaction in his elbow last year (shortly before the same injury was suffered by Matt Garza), feels good in camp so far. Healthy, strong, all that good stuff. He’s a long-shot to make the bullpen, but it’s good to know that he’s come back successfully from the injury.
  • Scott Baker threw another successful bullpen session (45 pitches) yesterday. He remains on schedule for an expected mid-April debut.
  • Oswego Chris

    Game of Thrones is awesome…in my opinion the third book was the best so the upcoming seasons should be great…

    Sorry for the nerd interruption…

    Continue discussing Cubs

    • DocPeterWimsey

      heh, everybody who whines about how ballplayers should be playing with “honor” and “integrity” should watch Game of Thrones, and get a very realistic depiction of what happens to people who believe that those things ever exist. (Indeed, I will dub the next person who write that “Sansa.”)

      My wife and I have been watching 2 episodes a weekend; we’ll wrap just before Season 3!

      • Cheryl

        Doc, Never heard of it. I’m from the old school in terms of the value of honor and integrity. But I’m realistic enough to know that the market dictates a lot of what goes on. Sometmes you have to make choices and it looks like a number of players made the wrong choices in what has become known as the steroid era. Braun in particular will be marked by his choices in the future.

        • Chet Masterson

          Hey Cheryl:

          Great comment. I’m from the old school in terms of hypocrisy and revisionist history. I too, however, an realistic enough to know that a fan’s lack of knowledge dictates a lot of what goes on. Sometimes you have to make choices and it looks like a number of fans made the wrong choices in what has become known as the PED witch hunt. Cheryl in particular will be marked by her choices in the future.

          Also, another interesting thing I think that relates to your point is: words words words words words. Food for thought.

          • frank

            Hey Chet,

            I will start by saying that I do not know if Braun is guilty of using PEDs or not. But what we do know is this–from public information, undisputed by Braun himself, concerning his case: Braun tested positive for testosterone levels that are possible only with the help of PEDs, in fact, one source was quoted as saying it was twice as high as the highest test result ever up til that time (this source may or may not be credible). He got off on a technicality dealing with the timeline and storage of his sample. Even if you grant that the time of transport, and the refrigeration of the sample etc., was improper, there was no evidence of tampering with the sample, and the US Anti-Doping Agency is on record as saying that there is no way that this would affect the concentration of testosterone in the sample without tampering. Since then, he has been implicated again; though possibly in a minor way. It is also true that he had a tremendous year last year, and he may have been clean–fairly strong evidence too, if only anecdotal considering there has been no information about testing during last season–maybe he wasn’t tested, maybe he was.

            Maybe Cheryl has wrongfully accused Ryan Braun and maybe not–but to say that there is no credible evidence for her belief is simply not true, and to classify it as a “witch hunt,” at least in this case, is patent hyperbole.

            Also, this has nothing to do with “revisionist history” as all I have stated is easily verifiable. Test results and public records are a bit more than “words words words words words”–especially when the accused does not dispute what has been presented as fact.

            • Chet Masterson

              Hi Frank.

              I found your information thought provoking.

              Can you explain in explicit detail more about the ‘patent hyperbole’?

              • frank

                lol–hey Chet–just think it was a bit overstated, that’s all.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Whether or not Braun is guilty is moot. (And, yes, there are other ways to get test results that go “bing” like Brauns did: and mommy would be even less pleased than “cheating” to learn about it….)

              The problem with the general view is that people think that baseball *used* to be clean, and that it’s only recently that players began to *try* to cheat. This is utter rubbish: today’s players are just like the 1950′s players and just like the Ancient Greek Olympians: they have always tried to cheat to the best of their ability. In the Game of Thrones, it is win or die; in sports, it’s just win or go home, but that’s enough.

              So, you have to ask yourself: what’s the difference between attempted murder with a sharp stick and attempted murder with a death ray gun? The latter is certainly more efficient than the former (or it will be, once it’s invented): but attempted murder is attempted murder. If you are on a desert island or living 10K years ago, it might be that the sharp stick is your best choice. Be it steroids, amphetamines, ground manure extract, or a mare in heat (that’s for the Thrones fans!), you use what’s available that you think will work.

              • frank

                Hi Doc–maybe you know more about this than I do, and if so, please go into a little more detail (for someone who’s not a scientist). My understanding is that the US Anti-Doping Agency said basically, that here is no way to get these particular types of test results to go “bing” absent “highly unusual circumstance”–and that there was no “highly unusual circumstance” here. Your overall point is well taken though–cheating, or at least the attempt, is as old as competition. I would also say, however, that just as there have always been people who have attempted to cheat, there have also always been people who have attempted to compete without cheating.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I have never read anyone write anything about Braun’s particular results in that way. Moreover, I would be disinclined to trust anything that members of the Anti-Doping Agency says: if you gave them a blood sample from a nursing mother, then the “only” explanation they would derive is that they were detecting masking hormones to balance PEDs. They are so blinkered and fettered by their zeal to unroot “cheating” that they seem incapable of considering any other explanation.

                  There was much buzz that Braun was covering up the fact that he was getting treatments for herpes: as shifts in hormone levels are one of the things that trigger herpes outbreaks, hormones can be used to treat them: and, of course, that means that you often need *other* hormones to balance the effects of the treatment hormones. That’s why people were chanting “STD! STD!” whenever Braun batted last year. (Hormones actually are nasty things: if you want to live a lot longer, then have yourself spayed or neutered young, and you’ll greatly reduce the risks of numerous cancers, keep a full head of hair and generally age more slowly.)

                  Is this true? I do not know. Could it be true? Yes, it could: but you have to be willing to consider an answer other that “PED” to derive it. Now, if it is true, then did Braun violate rules by not registering with the league that he was taking such drugs? Yes: after all, asthmatics who use steroids have to tell the league about it: otherwise, they will test positive. Moreover, it’s possible that guys would fake certain maladies just to get these chemicals “legally.” (Steroids are used along with chemotherapy, after all: so, if you just have to say “hey, I’m getting chemo, so look for some whacky stuff in this urine!” then a lot of guys would probably shave their heads and try to fake nausea; a note from a doctor helps….)

                  • frank

                    Thanks for the thoughts and information, Doc–always appreciate it.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          heh, and that’s one of the themes of Game of Thrones: honor and integrity were never “old school.” Sansa (the ultimate of the naive characters) often asks this in one form or another: what did these things stop? To which she always gets an answer: they never started.

          In a way, lies about honor in athletics and lies about honor in the nobility have the same source: the nobles themselves. Remember, the reason why values associated with *amateur* athletics are considered “virtues” in athletics is that European aristocrats of the 19th and early 20th centuries wanted major international athletics to be restricted to Gentleman: i.e., men of good birth and wealth. Among other things, we all know that a man of means is above temptation, right?

    • Spencer

      I love the third book; they’re splitting it into two seasons for the show. Luckily it has a pretty natural midway point…

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, the word “split” is quite appropriate here. The biggest question is, will we ever (on TV or in the books) get confirmation about Jon Snow’s mother?!?!?!?

        • Sandberg

          The series cannot conclude properly if we don’t. :)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            So, let’s take bets on what happens first: The Cubs get to post-season again, or Martin finishes the next book?

            I’m voting… umm….. geez…. I die of old age before either happens?

  • King Jeff

    Stewart might be optimistic, but I’m not. This was his chance to prove that he can be effective, and he’s going to miss half of spring training. If he comes back and struggles or shows a lot of rust, then he might not get a chance to recover with the Cubs.

    It should be interesting tracking Brett Jackson this year, his skill set could be a big shot in the arm for a young Cubs team.

  • cubs1967

    release stewart!

    what a waste. let’s hope when this team is good again; if that happens; glaring holes like 3b right now are better addressed than an ian stewat

  • @cubsfantroy

    I’m hopeful for Brett Jackson after the past few days. Well, more hopeful than I was after last year when he greatly disappointed in his call up.

    • Jason

      Rizzo disappointed in his first call-up as well…So far, so good with him :)

      • Marc N.

        Not to rain on the Brett Jackson parade but the comps to Rizzo fall apart the second you take a look at this:

        Anthony Rizzo’s first showing in AAA at 21: .331/.404/.652/1.056/ 89 Ks in 413 PAs (22%)

        Brett Jackson’s first showing in AAA at 22: .297/.388/.551/.939/ 64 Ks in 215 PAs (30%)

        Both in the PCL.

        It definitely would be extremely convenient for Jackson to give the Cubs a 2 WAR CFer for league min over the next three years.

  • mark

    gotta agree. an effective jackson would shake up the whole lineup, make all kinds of moves possible. i’m sure epstein and hoyer are tantalized by that vision already. it would also be an object lesson to prospects who are being asked/told to revamp their swings and approaches. nothing succeeds like success. still early, but videos of his swing do look nice.

  • cubchymyst

    I like the fact that the Cubs now have 3 coaches that are hitting coaches or have served as a hitting coach before (Deer, Rowson, and Sveum) who can work with the players to help their swing. Was Jaramillo the only one working with the Big League team before?

  • mark

    re stewart–there’s a reason the cubs gave up value to get him: defense and a bat that would play well in wrigley. he’s still young and promising. i continue to think the cubs will give him every chance to succeed. if he does succeed, they’ve got a great deal going and 3B has become one less hole to plug. with valbuena, they’d even have depth there and add jackson and you could be talking about contending. chips that they thought they’d have to use for 3B could be used for other needs. so i think he’ll get every opportunity.

    • Crazyhorse

      What reason? His playing time with the Cubs have been full of excuses. I have seen people post in what they believe he is capable of doing ,yet his on field performance has been terrible. Many people thought this trade was pure bull crap and the limpwrist has not proven otherwise.
      If Hendry was responsible in bringing this mess at third base this joke of a thirdbaseman would be gone by now. But the front office needs to save face- its time for the Cubs to cut this player . .

  • james

    I agree release Stewart. It was a bad trade a year ago. The Cubs should have never traded for a player coming off wrist surgery. They did and Stewart had wrist surgery again last year. Stewart didn’t even travel with the team last year. The Cubs need to cut ties with Stewart. Place anybody out there for now and look to trade or bring somebody up later.

    • True(ly) Blue

      Is Ian Stewart a lazy player? He didn’t travel with the team or even train with any teammates over the winter. Is he one of those guys who thinks that he doesn’t have to work to keep up? Training and playing ball over the winter might have kept him on the field rather than nursing a quad strain. Too bad as he seems to have a lot of natural talent but in today’s world you need to add to that talent with conditioning and training.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      It’s not like the Cubs had a whole lot of options at third base.

      • Crazyhorse

        With Stewart the Cubs still do not have any options . Is thier a family connection to the front office? i cant see any other reason why the Cubs Continue to pay for his potential with real money. Three hundred thousand dollars of real money.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Because if Stewart is healthy, then he’ll put up a higher OPS (and thus contribute more to the Cubs outscoring the opposition) than any of the other options: Stewart slugs and he takes enough walks to make up for low BA. As tough as 3rd base is to fill, there are not many other teams that would be considering *any* of the Cubs current options at 3rd.

          After that, Valbuena is your best option: and he’s pretty much a plus-utiltiy IFer, and not much more. It’s not like Chase Headley is one of the options here…..

        • BWA

          You do realize that 300,000 for the cubs is like buying a coke from a vending machine for a normal person. I’d pay that for the potential that stewart has. Now if he comes back to spring training and sucks, cut him for sure, but if he hits right away, gotta give him the money due to lack of better options.

          • Pat

            If they cut him, they will likely pay the entire two million. Yes there is verbiage in the CBA that technically allows for paying only a portion of an arbitration contract, which this actually isn’t, but put that aside. It is exceedingly difficult for a club to do and they would have to fight the players union on whether the grounds for releasing him were valid enough to pay only a partial contract. Given the time, money and hassle involved, I guarantee if they do release him they still pay the full contract. If we were talking twelve million instead of two it might be different.

    • Chris Schwab

      Ian Stewart did not have wrist surgery before the trade. No one realized his wrist was actually damaged when the trade was made, and you can be sure the Cubs did medical evaluation before the trade. In fact, it was ONLY after he continued to have problems and they got worse while playing for the Cubs that anyone diagnosed him. (If I recall, most of the scans and tests done before on him revealed absolutely nothing. It wasn’t until they physically went into the wrist that they were able to figure out what was up.)

      I agree with “mark”. The Cubs traded value for Stewart because he’s valuable. And he still has value. Valbuena is not a real option for a contender. Vitters is in limbo. Other possibilities seems a few years away, and the Cubs aren’t going to be looking to free agent bat until about this time NEXT YEAR. So they’re going to give Stewart a chance. Because he COULD be the guy they need and there’s NO ONE else, realistically–and a F.A. next year will cost a whole lot more. If Stewart is moderately productive, the Cubs are probably better off spending the cash on a true ace.

      I’m not a big Stewart backer or anything, but we’ve got to be realistic with what’s on the ground. As for True(ly) Blue–there were concerns about his time spent with the team. It doesn’t sound like it was a huge deal though. Keep in mind that during last season, after the surgery, he couldn’t play, couldn’t lift, couldn’t hit, and had a new baby at home. I don’t think he’s made a home in Chicago yet, so man… I don’t think I”d be with the team much if I had Theo’s permission to be gone. Have you ever heard a story about Stewart not being a good clubhouse guy or the guys being on their toes around him or even being a tough guy to get to know? I’ve not.But it’s not like the guy has been sitting on his but. He’s been conditioning and working out. What does it matter if he does it with his teammates or not? Every player’s training routine is different. Ultimately what matters is what he does between the lines. We’ll see how it plays out!

      • Crazyhorse

        The same people that cried about Arams production is mostly the same people waiting for this fraud to produce becasue Little theo signed him.

        • BWA

          The only reason to complain about ARAM was cuz he was always hurt. The dude produced

      • Kyle

        Stewart’s wrist issues were well-known at the time of the trade. While this may be the first time he’s had surgery on it, it’s not the first time he’s promised it felt 100% better and wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

        And as always, the success rate for guys coming off wrist surgery in the immediate year following is not very good.

  • August

    If there is even a shred a doubt Stewart is worth the Team’s time, start Vitters for the rest of the year. Jackson too. Why not?

  • Geech

    I’m trying to avoid getting irrationally excited about Jackson, and posts like this don’t help. It’s a tiny sample size in spring training, so we should make sure we’re not reading too much into it. We may only be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

    • Die hard

      One day light bulb will go on in his head and he will be an All-Star- he’s got all the tools

      • DocPeterWimsey

        BJax does not have “all of the tools.” In particular, his contact tool is not naturally good. Retooling his swing might help improve that, and because BJax does have a plus batting eye, he at least will keep most of his swings to strikes. However, what we really can hope for (even with the improvement) is one of those guys with OBP 0.10 better than his BA and SLG 0.20+ better than his BA.

        Mind you, that would be a great help to the Cubs, and it could help them win a few games: but very few All Stars have such poor contact skills as BJax does.

  • Josh t

    Really Brett? Brett Jackson a perennial Allstar? Hasn’t done anything in the big yet and it’s been 2 nice spring games with the new swing. Cool your jets. Until he puts up good #’s against midseason form big league pitching I don’t think we shuld be using the words perenial Allstar. Maybe costconrolable high upside outfielder. I’m optimistic and excited but I’m not going to think he has Allstar caliber written all over him till he proves he can do it consistently

    • sclem21

      he said ‘ceiling’, man. you cool your jets. people put ceilings on literally hundreds of prospects who havent put up numbers against ‘midseason form big league pitching’. cant believe im even responding to this non sense.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Dude was a first round pick and ranked in the top 50 or so prospects for a couple years by a majority of publications… and he’s still 24. He’s got plenty of skills and may just be learning to harness them with an improved contact skill, which had essentially put a cap on his other hitting skills.

      If he can make consistent contact, I don’t think there are many people who don’t think he would make an excellent player. We just have to find out whether he can translate his new swing into that consistency.

  • JR

    I agree about Jackson Brett. If that dude can some how lower his K rate it would be so awesome. BJax is like a dream player for team Theo with his patience and solid D. Please God allow him to be a solid starter. That would help the Cubs in so many ways.

  • HoustonTransplant

    It was great being able to listen to baseball again on the radio yesterday! I’m excited to see how Jackson continues to develop. He’s been on a tear so far, which sounds great. I agree we need to temper our excitement until he proves that he can consistently make contact day in and day out, but, boy, what a start!

    …and doesn’t his new swing/stance look a lot like Rizzo’s? Coincidence? (Sorry if that’s already been brought up before, they just mentioned it on the broadcast yesterday, and from the videos posted a few days ago, I have to agree).

  • Webb

    I agree that the perennial all-star projection seems like a reach. One thing to watch out for is the new swing zapping some of that 20 hr power we was projected to have. We could wind up seeing many more of those swings going for doubles or triples instead of HRs. I see him now as something near a .275, 15 HR guy, if everything shakes out perfectly. Honestly, I hope he’s great for 2-3 years and then swapped for a reload on young talent.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Projection” does not equal “ceiling.”

    • Rcleven

      I don’t really care about Twenty home run power right now. Homers will come with time.
      If he can ever reach that fifteen homer .275 number I would be thrilled for a speedy lead off hitter.

      • Jp3

        +1 on that, .275/.370OBP would be awesome. He would steal a lot of bases getting on that much and though he’s not off the charts fast he’s a VERY good base runner

        • MichCubFan

          Yeah, if Jackson can hit .275 he will be an all-star player.

  • JR

    I want BJax to make it so bad, and I am trying to be a hater… But, didn’t he look great in spring training last year?

    • JR

      *not trying to be a hater

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Last spring, BJax was showing the contact issues that led to all of the K’s in AAA & MLB. It was starting to become a more obvious issue in AA ball: BJax’s selectivity likely helped mask it prior to AA.

  • Rcleven

    Jackson has done very well so far. We are only one game into spring. Would like to see him hit against MLB pitching though. So far this spring he has only hit against last years Cubs AAA pitching and Angel hopefuls.
    Last year Jackson had a very strong Spring and look what happened.
    This game is game of adjustments. He made a adjustment over the winter and so far has looked good. The league will make their adjustment to him. It will be Jacksons job to re adjust. It would be great if Jackson can become a MLB player and become the starting center fielder.
    Until then I will quote the Who. I wont be fooled again.

  • Rcleven

    This is just spring training. Saw this tweet and it puts everything in perspective.

    thecubreporter ‏@thecubreporter

    #Cubs top S-T hitters by OPS: ’12, Mather (1116); ’11, Byrd (1063); ’10, Colvin (1221); ’09, Bradley (1326); ’08, Hoffpauir (1164).

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yeah, it has been long known (going back to the 1980′s at least) that among all teams and over all time, there has been no relation between ST performance and regular season performance. It’s actually much more random than, say, how a guy or team does in May and how he/they do in the rest of the year, which actually was surprising to me given that you get such major differences in schedule difficulty from one month to the next. However, that never includes facing AA-quality guys for any length of time.

      I’m not sure that anybody makes much of ST anymore in the baseball world. Sparky Anderson used to do so, but he got pretty badly embarrassed a couple of times, and scaled back after that.

  • Spencer

    I don’t know why, but I think that picture of BJax looks really weird. The Cubs facebook page just posted some good ones of him.

  • Navin R. Johnson

    “Although his ceiling isn’t MVP-level, it is absolutely that of a perennial All-Star”…… Well when I read that I automatically get what Brett is trying to say…… First ballot hall of famer, multiple time MVP, gold glove winner. Cross bread between Mike Trout and Babe Ruth.

  • another JP

    Brett nails it when he talks about the potential for BJax to be a perennial AS… the list of top CF that have ever played the game is really quite sparse. Google the list of top 50 at the position and you’ll come up with guys like Andy Van Slyke, Larry Doby, Torii Hunter, Johnny Damon, and Amos Otis. Many have compared Jackson to Jim Edmunds, and if he simply gets his K-rate under control he’ll be the prototypical five tool player. .270/.350/.450 would get BJax to multiple All-Star games with the speed and defense he brings to the table.

    • Marc N.

      Those are all really good players that Brett Jackson would be very lucky to match, let alone beat.

      If Brett Jackson turns into Jim Edmonds then I will eat a kitten. Both would be insane.

  • Kyle

    It definitely is that fun time of year when dreams seem possible.

    If Jackson were to break out, I’m not sure it moves the needle at all in 2013. A productive Jackson would take over CF and either DeJesus or Soriano would be moved, and that’s pretty much a wash in the lineup. I doubt we’ll be getting anything MLB-ready for either of them, so not much help there.

    But as Brett noted, it really solidifies things for 2014+. A cost-controlled outfielder locking down a spot does wonders for our medium-term outlook.

  • BluBlud

    Hopefully BJax shows improvement, and we keep Dejesus and Soriano. An outfield of an improved Jackson, Dejesus, Soriano, Sappelt and Hairston would be a pretty decent one.

    On the Stewart thing. I’m wondering if Lake absolutely rakes ST if there is a chance he could get nod for 3B is Stewart gets cut. He could split time with Valbuena(disgusting) until Vitters is ready and then he and Vitters can share the position, with Lake also possibly backing up Castro and maybe Barney. This would be better then Lillibridge or one of the other scrub pickups making the team. I think this is the year Lake steps up big and maybe even pushes Vitter completely out.

  • Chris Schwab

    Where do you realistically see BJax hitting? Here’s the thing, if the Cubs are playing well at all and not looking to dump (however unlikely that might be), you can’t just move DeJesus to make room for BJax because who’s your leadoff guy? Can BJax really be a .370, .380 OBP guy? I hope so, but the .338 at AAA last year was not promising. But you know… I was checking pitches per plate appearance. DeJesus was 7th in the league last year (4.04). But–small sample I know–Brett Jackson, despite his strikeouts was otherworldly at 4.24 pitches per plate appearance (tops in guys 25 and under, regardless of plate appearances). So I dunno, maybe he can do it. It’d just be nice to see more contact in play.

  • Alec

    I actually liked Blake Parker I thought he had potiental to be a solid long/middle reliever

  • mudge

    There are different types of wrist surgeries – is the kind Stewart had comparable to the kind of fracture D Lee had?

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