Wrigley Field made entirely out of LEGOs? Wrigley Field made entirely out of LEGOs.
- FanGraphs’ JD Sussman hearts Jorge Soler, and I now heart JD Sussman. From his write-up on “the game’s next elite prospect”:
Soler’s 2012 debut was essentially him shaking the rust off, but there are things that stand out. The first thing that catches one’s eye is Soler has the build of an elite athlete. He has a lean muscular frame that oozes athleticism. Soler’s upper legs are well developed and provide him with a powerful base. His chest and back are impressive too, but further growth of his upper half shouldn’t be unexpected.
Despite the layoff, Soler’s tools are exceptionally loud. Power will be the Cuban’s carry tool, but he also posses a plus arm and average or better speed. His power is derived from the immense bat speed he generates with his hands and hips. His hands begin in a high load and require minimal movement before he rifles them forward in conjunction with his hip turn. The power projection comes not only from the bat speed, but the lift and leverage present too. It’s easy to grade his future power a six or seven and its utility should not be undermined by his hit tool.
- It goes on to discuss some challenges Soler will face this year, but, hey, who wants to hear that part? Actually, you probably do, so go ahead and read the article.
- Other top prospect Javier Baez on Alfonso Soriano’s leadership: “If he sees you doing something lazy or not doing it right, he’ll tell you to do it the right way. Every time. If he goes to the weight room and I’m not in there, he sends somebody to get me. He takes care of me. He’s not doing it in a bad way, but in a good way. So I just follow him everywhere.” These are the subtle things to keep in mind when we discuss a Soriano trade (in addition to keeping in mind the non-subtle things like production, age, contract, defense, Cubs record, etc.).
- Starlin Castro’s return has now been pushed back another three or four days! He’s going to miss a week and a half with “mild tightness/inflammation” in his hamstring! Why do things keep getting worse!? Ok, actually, with respect to Castro, I’m not worried, and don’t feel like this is one of those why-are-they-playing-games-with-injury-information situations. Castro has been doing everything normally – batting practice, out on the field, etc. – and the trainers can’t even get Castro’s leg to simulate any discomfort by moving it around. Castro legitimately is just getting extra rest because it’s so early in the Spring.
- The guy I’ve frequently mentioned as perhaps the most likely non-roster invitee pitcher to win a bullpen spot, lefty Hisanori Takahashi, may indeed have a “good shot” at making the team, per Paul Sullivan. But before I got straining my elbow patting myself on the back, it’s notable that Sullivan says Takahashi is being looked at as a possible long reliever, rather than a situational lefty. I have always liked the idea of an “other-armed” long reliever (i.e., if most of your rotation is righty, a long-arm lefty), but Takahashi’s success has largely coming in a LOOGY role. He’s getting a start on Wednesday, so clearly the Cubs want to see how he looks in multiple innings.
- Carlos Villanueva, who is set to open the season in the rotation because of Matt Garza’s lat injury, continues to say all the right things: “We’ll need [Garza]. We’ll need him later on. I’d rather him be 100 percent healthy and not rush into anything and feel bad. He’s going to miss a week or two weeks, then so be it. Nobody really remembers the beginning, they remember the stretch run. As long as he’s 100 percent ready for that, we’re ready to have him back. For us in position now, we have to take advantage of the opportunity and help the team win.”
- Dale Sveum likes what he sees from Dan Vogelbach: “That’s one guy, from all the video I’ve watched, you can just tell some guys can just hit. They’re more patient than other hitters, obviously the bat speed is fine. For a young kid, he’s pretty polished already as far as pitch selection and trusting himself.”
- The Cubs have a new General Manager of Spring Training Operations in Mesa – Justin Piper joins the organization from the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks (additional Tony Campana compensation, I’d reckon). Piper will oversee all business activity at the new Cubs Spring Training Facility, including sales, marketing, facility operations and community affairs. In other words, he’s the top Spring Training dog from a business perspective – a relatively important role when an organization is launching a new nearly $100 million Spring Training facility.
- Anthony Rizzo is ready to play for Team Italy. His first game is Thursday, against Mexico. On Friday, Team Italy plays Canada, and on Saturday, Team Italy plays the United States.
- For those into college basketball, BN’er Dan asks for a little support for a classy player – vote for Ryan Broekhoff of Valparaiso for the Lou Henson Award (essentially Mid-Major Player of the Year) here.