jason mcleod theo epstein jed hoyerOne thing that really suffers when important life/family stuff takes most of my attention is my knowledge of what’s going on in the rest of the sporting world. I can usually stay on top of Cubs stuff, and usually keep the content here going as normal. But I haven’t the foggiest clue of what else is going on. In fact, “the sporting world” is probably too narrow of a classification. I have no idea what else is going on anywhere in the world. Any Bigfoot sightings or major geopolitical conflicts about which I should be aware?

  • While they may not always be the best at evaluating a particular baseball franchise’s state of affairs, ESPN experts took on the challenge of ranking baseball organizations as a whole. They described the endeavor as “an attempt to measure how well each team is set up for sustained success over the next five years.” Sound a bit like the Cubs’ plan? Well, it should, because it is. And, for that reason, it’s no surprise that the Cubs ranked 6th on the list, behind only the Cardinals (le sigh), the Rangers, the Rays, the Nationals, and the Yankees. The picture looks even better when you consider that the Cubs were at just about the bottom of the list on one of the most heavily-weighted factors (current talent in the majors), yet still scored so highly because in the other four factors – minor leagues, finances, management,  and player mobility – the Cubs blew almost every other organization away. And, to my mind, those four factors are where the Cubs are focusing their long-term efforts. This organization should be a powerhouse over the next decade.
  • Starlin Castro (tight hamstring) should be back into game action within a few days. Ian Stewart (strained quad) isn’t expected to start hitting again for a week.
  • Dale Sveum talks up Javier Baez’s defensive development, and notes that the rocket the youngster hit against the Dodgers the other day may have been the hardest hit ball he’s ever seen. (Just think about that.)
  • Matt Snyder previews the 2013 Cubs, and, for a national guy, does a pretty excellent job of summing up where the Cubs stand. In fact, it’s just about exactly what I’d say. Nicely done, Mr. Snyder.
  • Patrick Mooney on the intended pitching duties of Carlos Marmol and Kyuji Fujikawa, who will work the 9th and 8th innings, respectively, for the Cubs this year … assuming Marmol is still around when the season begins.
  • At least one scout sees a bright future for Cubs catcher Welington Castillo, whom the scout describes as having a plus-plus arm and power. He also says Castillo moves well behind the plate, and should see his receiving/game-calling skills improve this year.
  • Non-roster invitee, and bench job competitor, Darnell McDonald is a fan of Twitter, apparently.
  • Jacob

    How are the Yankees even in the top half of teams, on that list? They have a below average farm, aging roster (to put it nicely), and their best player could very well possibly leave after this season. ESPN baffles me sometimes.

    • JR

      I thought the same thing about the Yankees. You can make an argument that they actually might be the worst setup franchise for sustained success with their terrible contracts for old players and below avg farm system.

      • terencem

        The Yankees have a healthy farm system. They also have a ~90 win team which is probably a few years from falling apart (although losing Cano would definitely hurt). I’d say they have a few years before they need to panic.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The Yanks farm system is very heterogeneous. They have 4 or 5 really promising players, which is very good. However, that’s really all they have. The lack of depth is bad for them because if you have quality prospects in the bottom 5 of your Top 10, then it is much easier to make trades, and you have more cushion if you have to bump everyone up a level for 4-6 weeks.

    • MightyBear

      Not to mention their number one asset – finances.

    • DB Kyle

      I know it’s going to sound crazy, but hear me out:

      Having good players on the MLB roster right now has a little, tiny bit to do with an organization’s success in the near future.

  • http://www.obstructedview.net Myles

    Minor nitpick, but the Welington Castillo sentence “whom the scout describes as having a plus-plus arm and power” seems to infer that Castillo has a plus-plus arm and plus-plus power.” I don’t think that’s the case and would have put those in the opposite order. I guess I’m being pedantic, congrats again.

    • CubFan Paul

      Watch a game or read a pre 2012 scouting report or farm prospect rankings.

    • Cubbie Blues

      From the link

      “He has two plus-plus tools,” the scout said. “First and foremost he moves well behind the plate and he has a cannon for an arm.

      I wouldn’t have thought of him as plus-plus power either but, someone did.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, it wasn’t me saying it – it was the scout. And yes, he implied that Castillo has plus-plus power.

        • Rich H

          His defense behind the plate was never in question. Three years ago he was projected to be a plus plus defender. The problem was communication and calling a game . He seems to have finally developed that part of his game enough to get a shot.

  • Fishin Phil

    Bigfoot signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. Sign all the hominids!

    • Cubbie Blues

      I heard he got a non-roster invitation though. And, come on Phil, he prefers to go by Thomas.

      • cubchymyst

        I thought he went by Harry Henderson

  • Internet Random

    Any . . . geopolitical conflicts about which I should be aware?

    I think I heard on the news yesterday that were some disagreements in the Middle East… or about the Middle East… something like that.

    It’s probably nothing.

    • http://flawedcast.net/wtny/ Nate Corbitt

      NASA discovered a previously unknown third band of radiation surrounding the Earth, so there’s that.

  • Tommy

    Anyone know of any video of that Baez hit?

    • Cubbie Blues

      I don’t think he goes around hitting videos.

  • Bill

    The problem the Cubs faced is to be a real contender they need a number 1 starter (they’ll need a number 2 if they trade Garza away). Nothing in the pipeline is close to filling those roles, so they will have to make a trade or go the free agent route. With the lack of TOR pitchers available the Cubs will have to dearly overpay, and thus far I haven’t seen Theo willing to overpay for anyone. They’ll never win anything if they don’t get those TOR starters. People talk about Price but as we all know the Rays just don’t give away stud players, like Price. The Cubs are going to have to pay a steep price to get him.

    The next offseason will show us if Theo is really serious about winning or he’s content to wait until the farm system is able to fill the void for the star players and he can fill out the other positions with mid level FA players. I think this next offseason really is huge in determining just how badly Theo wants to win. He should have some solid core pieces in Castro, Rizzo, Barney, Castillo (possibly), Shark, Jackson, Garza (if they don’t trade him), Baker (if he stays healthy and they resign him). Vizcaino could be the closer next year (depending how he does as a starter this year and his health).

    There’s plenty to be optimistic about but they need to take a giant leap to get 1-2 TOR starters. Without them the team doesn’t win the division, probably doesn’t make the playoff, and even if it does they won’t win anything because you need excellent pitching in the post season. Baez should be able to man 3B in a year or two to fix that who put empty spot at the TOR is a big black hole.

    • Edwin

      True. Unless some surprises shake through in the minors, quality pitching may be hard to come by. Well said.

    • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

      You have a valid point on top end starters. However, teams don’t often let those get away very often. If Tampa is asking too much on Price in eight months, and there aren’t any other aces out there, the presumption that Theo will *just* build from within is presumptive. To win a title, you do pretty much need an ace. However, the Cubs did win the division in 2007 and 2008 without one. It does make advancing much harder, however.

      I think you assessment is in a vacuum, as you don’t account for advancement or regression by others. If the team retains Samardzija and Jackson for the next four years, they should qualify as 200 inning options. Another two or three would surely be needed, and hopefully one would be better than Jeff or Edwin.

      A large chunk of pitching development in the system will hinge on how we develop our own pitchers. If Chicago becomes a destination location for good pitchers, good things can happen quicker than expected. Hopefully the arms from the last 2 draft classes have largely good seasons, and we have excess to trade for quality arms, whether David Price or someone else.

    • CubFan Paul

      “The problem the Cubs faced is to be a real contender they need a number 1 starter …”

      There’s less than 10 “#1s” in all of baseball (as Jason Parks frequently reminds us)

    • MightyBear

      I disagree. I think Samardzjia will be a number 1. Scott Baker is a number 1 if he comes back to where he was. Garza is a 2-3. Jackson is a 3. They have several candidates to fill out 4-5. I think the starters are this teams biggest strength. (Although there are plenty of “ifs” in the rotation. This will give them time to get the young kids developed and get some more young kids to develop.

      • Edwin

        That’s very optimistic. Are there more reasons behind why you think this, or just gut feeling?

      • Cubsleeram

        Scott Baker is not a #1, even when healthy. He just isn’t. He had a solid WAR and an above average xFIP for a few years, but that’s about it.

  • JR

    In my opinion Castillo was terrible behind the plate last year. I remember thinking to myself (did Castillo recently move to catcher from another position)? He just seemed clueless back there. But yeah, he has the tools for sure. If he can somehow become adequate behind the plate that would be a huge boost to the Cubs future. He is definitely one of the players I’m excited to watch, and hope he develops a lot throughout the year.

  • BluBlud

    I think Castillo has the tools to develop into a top defensive cathcher. His arm is possibly top 2 or 3 in all of baseball, and he can get the ball out as quick as anyone, something that is just as important as arm strenth. The best combination of arm strenth and release in baseball is probably Molina and Castillo is not far behind. If he learns how to call a game, he could eventually replace Molina as he ages as the best defensive catcher in baseball. Sounds crazy from what we saw at the beginning of last year, but I think it’s possible. His bat will always be plus as a catcher and if he develops as I’m sure he will, he will be a top all around catcher in baseball for years to come. This is why I alway baffled when people on here suggest we should look for a catcher. We are pretty set at catcher. Clevenger will be pretty decent and will serve as a pretty decent backup as well in the future.

    • hansman1982

      He needs to learn how to receive the pitch. Sveum or Bosio is probably actually calling the game.

      • BluBlud

        Very true, that is his one weakness. He was terible at the beggining last year, but he progressed very well by the end of the year. I think he started receiving regular pitches well. I think his problem may be framing the close ones. Because of his akward way of recieving pitches, he has trouble framing the ones on the corner.

        • BluBlud

          Maybe I should say his MAIN weakness, not his ONE weakness.

  • Freshness21

    Is there any video of the Baez hit heard round the world?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Wanted to keep you updated, Brett, by the way, congrats on your new addition, babies bring good luck.
    Dennis Rodman appears to be our new ambassador to North Korea, which is pretty much all you need to know about the state of the planet.

    • BluBlud

      Yeah, I always knew Rodman should get into politics. His took one trip to N Korea, made one layup, got a rebound, and they Dismantled their whole Weapons programs. That guy is awesome.

  • Bilbo161

    Hey Brett, did you hear the Blackhawks won, again? You may have heard of them through the fog. I think they are doing ok this year. 😉

  • Fastball

    Here is your update from Southwest Ohio.

    Last night a Big Foot ran out in front of my car at a stop sign out in the middle of nowhere. I got out to talk to him with a Large Howl. He looked at me like I was nuts. I smacked two peices of wood together and he gave me a puzzled look. So I said hey buddy are you for real? He said well I am for real I am from another planet and it’s not Mars. We only come to America on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, tell your people that and also tell the people on the stupid TV show to stop howling in the woods and banging logs on trees. We have no idea what the hell they are trying to do! OK Brett that’s the Big Foot update….

    Stock Market Didn’t Crash

    Iraq is probably going to have a Civil War

    Obama is going to back Gay Marriage nationwide

    Gas prices are flipping ridiculous but two processing plants are upping production again in NJ so prices are expected to go down.

    Concealed Carry permits are on the increase in Ohio as well as most other states.

    We expect to have the same Crappy Weather in Ohio until Sunday.

    The ARNOLD is in full swing and the bikini contest starts at 2:00pm. The Terminator is in Cbus as of the time of this post.

  • Fastball

    I see no possible way for Cano to be a Cub. He is great and I would love to have him. But he won’t leave the Yankees and he will cost way too much. He isn’t the answer to the Cubs winning a WS. We are on a good path now. I can see 3B, and the OF possibly being supplemented by better FA’s next off season and maybe they splurge on a top of the rotation pitcher.