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Welcome to the Cubs TheoBullets!

  • When asked about the non-big-three (Almora/Soler/Baez) prospects who could emerge as elite guys this year, Theo Epstein mentioned Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn on the pitching side, and Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, and Carlos Penalver on the positional side. He also said that Dan Vogelbach “has a really special bat and I think he’s going to have a huge year,” per the Tribune. I’m sure that was hardly an exhaustive list, so don’t take any exclusions as sleights.
  • Keith Law took in a Cubs minor league Spring game this weekend, and offered some thoughts on two of the pitchers he saw: recently-returned Rule 5 pick Starling Peralta, and Tommy John recovery Rob Whitenack. Law was complimentary of Peralta (“[Peralta] touched 97 and sat around 94 with an inconsistent slider, slurvy at 75 mph, but with real bite at 81 in on a left-handed hitter’s hands. There’s some effort there but I can see why a team would at least pay $25,000 – per Rule 5 guidelines – for an extra look”), but down on Whitenack. “Robert Whitenack, however, looked awful in his comeback from [2011] Tommy John surgery, sitting 85-87, way below what he was pre-surgery,” Law wrote. “He’s a cautionary tale for every one of us (myself included) who looks at that operation as risk-free. Most guys come all the way back, but maybe one in 10 don’t.” If it proves true that Whitenack is a post-surgery bust, it’s a real bummer for him and for the Cubs. Before his surgery in mid-2011, Whitenack was rocketing up the system and the prospect charts.
  • Because the children have to eat: At times you may find yourself looking for a place online to satisfy your gaming needs. There are a handful of ways to accomplish that task, but you’re going to want to consider Springbokcasino.co.za. They even have craps, which affords me the opportunity to type craps without any compunction whatsoever.
  • Scott Baker isn’t as down about the news on his elbow setback as you might think, given that he could miss half the season. “It’s always nice to have some clarity when dealing with an injury,” Baker said, per Carrie Muskat. “Any type of setback is not fun and there’s never good timing for any sort of setback, but knowing what we’re dealing with helps us deal with it better, obviously. With the type of injury it is, Doc likened it to a scab. You can’t pick at it, you have to let it heal and rest and get back after it after that.” Interestingly, Baker says he might be back a month later than originally expected, which would be mid-May. That would be amazing, given this setback. I’m still expecting June at the earliest.
  • For those of you in Wrigleyville and Lake View, and who are interested in community matters, you are reminded that there is a Wrigley Field Community Meeting tonight at 6:30pm CT at the 19th Police District Station at 850 W. Addison. All manner of things involving the community, the Cubs, and Wrigley Field are likely to be discussed, so you can offer your input. If you’re in attendance, feel free to share your impressions and any discussions here in the comments (or drop me an email at brett AT bleachernation DOT com).
  • An oddly-timed come-see-the-Cubs-in-the-Cactus-League piece by CNN. Spring Training ends in two days.
  • Jonah Keri previews the NL Central, and lands exactly where you’d expect him to on the Cubs.
  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Good to see Penalver on that list. We don’t hear a lot about him because he has so little experience in the U.S.

    And that’s really not good on Whitenack. I don’t think he’s a guy who will be able to get by with a lower velocity, and 85-87 is a big drop from where he was. If this holds, that pretty much checks Whitenack out of the mid-rotation conversation, and that is a loss the organization really can’t afford. The Cubs are seriously lacking in pitchers at the upper levels of the system who project any higher than back of the rotation or bullpen arms.

    Hopefully his velocity will yet recover. We’ll keep an eye on him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah. Unfortunately, his breakout in early 2011 was coupled with an uptick in velocity (to the low/mid-90s). So, there is a strong reason to believe he’s not going to be effective if he’s not in that range.

    • Edwin

      How is Ben Wells looking?

  • Coldneck

    I like what Keri says about the pitching staff and mostly agree. The big question mark is whether Garza will perform like he has the past when he comes back from injury. I’d imagine the 9 month layoff may make him a bit rusty.

  • BluBlud

    The Cubs suck. Why in the hell would anybody come to a site and talk about the Cubs all day? They have never won anything and will never win anything. If you are a Cubs fan, you are a loser.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hacked? You’re often negative, but not like that.

      • hansman1982

        That’d be a really specific hack.

      • BluBlud

        I pulled up this article to read and then stepped out to use the bathroom and got bombed. I think I know who the culprit is. I may like to debate, but there is no question that I am a Cubs fan.

        • DarthHater

          Wow, it’s just like when North Korea hacked all those computers in South Korea! :-p

          • BluBlud

            Darth, thats just a Moronic statement.

            • hansman1982

              Hey, leave the mothers out of this.

            • DarthHater

              Really? I thought it was a perfect comparison. But maybe it was just perfectly moronic. ;-)

        • RoughRider

          Cybill is that you ?

    • Peja

      Then why are you here? I’m sure you can find something better in life to do than troll a fan site

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

    We really did have an amazing class of foreign prospects graduating to the domestic leagues in recent years.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      ONERI!!!!!!!!

      • Cedlandrum

        Yeah I found myself at one point saying that I didn’t care if he left, but in truth he did a good job once the Cubs decided to invest there.

  • Coldneck

    The lineup is simply terrible by any measure. Two good bats out of the 8. We’ll need a high OBP to score runs and I don’t think the personnel is in place to do that. Zips projects one player with.350 OBP or better. That’s gross.

    • Coldneck

      To follow up, Zips projects 5 of our starting lineup with OBPs between .301 and .321.

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        DeJesus projected above .350?
        I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the year Castro and Rizzo meet that threshold.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

          Rizzo, iirc.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Castro won’t walk enough to have a .350 OBP without hellaciously lucky BABiP.

          • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

            This is the year he leads the league in hitting, so he won’t need that many walks. That’s my hope, anyway.

          • hansman1982

            I disagree, he has the ability to have a .045-.050 IsoD and his rookie year he was .003 away from a .350 OBP.

            He won’t get much over a .350 OBP but he can get there.

          • CubFan Paul

            We need our guys to SLG this year. Especially guys in the platoons (DeJesus, Schierholtz, Sappelt, Hairston, Valbuena, Lillibridge, Castillo, Navarro, Clevenger & Bogusevic/BJax (post DeJesus trade)).

            Hopefully Dale doesn’t fuck it up.

            • hansman1982

              Ya, we have a lot of platoons going on.

              Hopefully Theo keeps reminding him what the best course of action is…

  • Beer Baron

    Would seem Whitenack is a likely candidate to be dropped from the 40-man this week. Someone has to be moved if they are in fact adding Lillibridge and Takashi to the roster. I can’t imagine any other team would add pick him up if he’s still struggling that much, and then the Cubs can put him back in Daytona and let him take his time coming back (if that is even possible).

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

      No one is getting dropped. Once spring training starts, you can put people on the 60-day DL to open up roster spots as needed, and we have plenty of candidates.

      • hansman1982

        Although, if his velocity is down, it would be a good time to try and sneak him through waivers.

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        Or you can drop someone now who has no chance of being picked up, rather than gambling 60 days from now.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          True. Keep in mind: the market is about to get flooded by fringe roster guys.

  • Hebner the Gravedigger

    I’ll take Reggie Golden as my non-big three who emerges.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dig it. Not to ape Theo, but it’s Pierce Johnson for me.

    • CubFan Paul

      I got Vogelbach. He could mash all the way to AA.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

        I’m taking Vogelbach as well. A bat that can play trumps everything else.

        • BluBlud

          Why would you take Vogelbach, he said pick someone outside od the big three. ;)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Amaya.

    • North Side Irish

      I’ve always liked Alcantara…now that he’s healthy, I think he take a big step up the ranks this season. I think Underwood is another guy who could make the jump and will really benefit from a full season of workouts and instruction. It may be next season before he’s ready to be in this discussion though.

  • Scarey

    Isn’t it considered unfair yet to talk about Castro throwing into the third row at this point? I thought Keri was way off base on his Castro comments. I’m quite looking forward to some excellent middle infield play between Barney and Castro this year.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

      Castro had the third-most throwing errors among MLB SS’s last year.Maybe a tiny bit unfair, but not much.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

    Not a Trib subscriber. Was Paniagua on Epstein’s list?

    Because I’m still finding it odd that he’s a no-show at spring training, and nobody is reporting why.

    • CubFan Paul

      He wasn’t in minor league camp?

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

        Arizona Phil still had him listed under “whereabouts unknown” as of March 19, no updates since. That list is usually reserved for organizational fodder that knows it is getting cut and doesn’t bother showing up.

  • Curt

    April 1st is coming Tom ricketts and I hope that deadline that’s in place to have a deal done with city and rooftop owners for the renovation actually does get done but if not I hope you have a set, and look at rosemont and the many others that want and need a big impact buisness like thd cubs in their backyards. start looking seriously please and tell Tunney and Emanuel to get bent and thd rooftop owners lets see how their mortgages look after theirs no baseball games to steal, I think if you build a replica of wrigley the fans will follow and the tourists will still come and then add ur restaurants, shops, hotels and make yr own tourist destination , if prefer that wrigley stay where it is but it’s definitely time for thd cubs to stop jumping through hoops they shouldn’t even be talking about let alone doing , time to wrap this deal up or move on , does anyone really think that Tunney and Emanuel want to be known as the ones who drove the cubs out if Chicago when the leverage changes so will their tunes.

    • Kevin

      Curt, agree 100%! I’m actually thinking TR pulls the deal off the table April 1st to allow the club to look at all the offers then make a decision next year. This extra year would most likely have the Cubs playing at the Cell or Miller Park for one year.

      • md8232

        If this happens, I hope they play at Miller. Take away all monies from the city and state and make sure they feel some pain. Open the door to moving out of state permanently.

  • OlderStyle

    Man, I haven’t been this disinterested in the lead up to a Cubs season since the mid-90’s. I’m trying to find something to grab my attention about this team but it’s just not happening. I know the kids coming up, the kids this, the kids that… I just don’t care about prospects until they’re making an impact on the MLB roster.
    With injuries and trades this team could be worse than last year. It has reached a sad state when I’m more interested in the renovation discussion than the team’s chances this year.
    [img]http://whitbagsinfm.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/audiecne-bored1.jpg[/img]

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Is that Steve-O from Jackass?

  • BluBlud

    I think those ZiPS projections are entirely to low on Castro, Rizzo, Sori and Castillo. I think Castro will get back to hitting over .300 this year and may even be a 20+, if not 25+ homer guy this year. I looking a huge breakout year for him, especially with Rizzo hitting behind him. Rizzo will also have a huge season in my opinion. IDK about a .300 average, but close to .290/.370 with 30+ homers wouldn’t suprise me. Sori will be Sori if healthy, which has always been the case, an he appears to be as healthy as ever. .260 average with 30 homers will do.

    As for Castillo. He my Candidate for suprise player of the year in the entire NL. I think he will turn some heads. Don’t be suprised if this guy is an all-star catcher. I’m not predicting it, I just wouldn’t be suprised. Even if he’s not an all-star, I’d be willing to bet he hits better then .240/.312/.398. This guy has a good bat with some power. I could see him doing something like .275/.340/.400+ with 15-20 HR’s. With Molina and Posey and a couple others, he may not make the all-star team, but he will at least put up above average numbers.

    • Coldneck

      Wow. I wish I had your optimism. I could see Rizzo and Castro outperforming the projections but not by such a large margin. I’m not nearly as high on Castillo as you are. I remember watching him when he was first called up and he has a decent hole in his swing. I’d be surprised if he’s much better than replacement level.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Curtis Granderson hit 43 HR last year out of the #2 spot, but I can’t believe too many other #2’s hit 25 bombs. I tried to google a list of #2 hitter production, but couldn’t find anything.

    25 homers from Castro would be a game changer.

    • BluBlud

      I definitely think he’ll reach the 20-25 homer plateau at some point, the question is when. This is his 4th year, and his first big payday year, so this is the year he has the pressure to perform. Hopefully it has a positive affect on him.

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

    I think I’ll be spending many a weekend in Sevierville at the Smokies’ games. Hoping to get a glimpse of Vogelbach, Soler, and maybe even Baez this year.

    • Noah

      You’re much more likely to get a glimpse of Baez than Vogelbach. Baez is going to be starting the season in Daytona, so if he does well there he’s probably looking at a bump up Tennessee in late June or early July. Soler is in the same boat, but since he’s a bit older the Cubs might be more aggressive with him if he impresses in the FSL.

      But Vogelbach is going to be starting the season in Peoria. Considering the sample sizes don’t really become close to meaningful for a couple of months, Vogelbach would have to absolutely dominate both the MWL and FSL from day one to even just spend the last month of the season in Tennessee. It’s definitely possible with his bat, but less likely than Baez or Soler.

      • BluBlud

        I don’t think Vogelbach will be playing in Peoria this season.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Maybe on a road trip.

          • BluBlud

            oh, yeah, I forgot about that.

        • Noah

          LOL, that would be correct. It’ll take a bit for me to always think Kane County. It’s like when the year changes, everyone spends a month and a half continuing to date everything with the prior year.

    • BluBlud

      Me and my wife were just in Sevierville for Valentines Day. We were Skiing up on Ober Gatlingburg. I took her up the mountain on the Ober Gatlingburg Zip Line Tram. Oh, she was terrified. The funny parts was we had to come back down on the tram. I might make a trip back during the season. The ride wasn’t all that long.

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

        I’m in Asheville, NC, but we get to the Gatlinburg area every other month or so. It’s a 90 minute drive from my door to the Smokies’ stadium, so I’ll be getting there as much as possible this summer.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’m planning another trip to see the Smokies in late July or August.

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

            Shoot me a message when you come out (Brett’s got my email address that I don’t use on public message boards). We’ll grab a beer or something at the stadium. I won’t be around late August, because I’m following the Cubs on their West Coast swing and hitting games in San Diego and Los Angeles.

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      Most likely in reverse order..

      Baez (by July)
      Soler (maybe by August 1st).
      Vogelbach (very unlikely).

      I, on the other hand, will be spending weekends watching the KC Cougers.

      • BluBlud

        I think they both have a chance for an early promotion. If they both are raking from the start, there is a good chance they’ll both be there by June 1.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    That article about the Central Division really irritates me. Why do guys try and cover all the teams, but then don’t do their homework?
    They take some old news from a year or more ago, and just keep perpetuating it. Nobody is talking about Castro switching to a different position. It is bullshit. It is just hack writing. And his fielding has improved dramatically, as can be expected for a kid who was playing in the big leagues when he was 21. But he is a lazy writer who just takes the old line, and keeps repeating.
    And he like a lot of other writers are talking up the Cardinals rotation as going to be really good. Huh? Westbrook is their #3 starter for crying out loud, Lynn has been getting rocked in spring training, he was so bad last August they sent him to the bullpen, and he says Miller is poised to break out. Based on what? I hear he hasn’t been fooling any hitters this spring, and is going to take his lumps, just like most rookie starters do. But he has been getting hyped for 2 years now, so have to keep the old mantra going.

  • Noah

    I was never really big on Whitenack in the first place. Prior to 2011 he was always a guy who didn’t strike people out but also didn’t really walk people. His stats in Daytona in 2011 look sexy with the 9.78 K/9 and the insane 0.39 BB/9, but the sample size was tiny. Four starts, 23 innings.

    When he moved to Tennessee his continued success looks to have been much more smoke and mirrors than any form of continued dominance. The K rate dropped to a career low (5.26 K/9), the walk rate jumped to the highest it had been since short season ball (3.11 BB/9), and his success was tied largely to an extremely high strand rate (80.7%) and a low BABIP against (.267).

    I just don’t view pitchers who can’t get hitters to swing and miss in the minors as anything more than 5th starter candidates.

    Now, if Ben Wells can stay healthy THAT’S a guy I like in the sinker ball/control pitcher mold. He does induce a healthy number of Ks, and he’s much younger than Whitenack was at similar levels. The question is if the elbow holds up.

  • Die hard

    Disappointed he didn’t say Struck was Golden or Golden sure to Struck next year…. He didn’t panic on Stanek who I say is the pick

    • pete

      Nice couplet. Please have the next reply be in iambic pentameter.

      • MichiganGoat

        Diehard the BN Bard … or jester

  • ReiCow

    Oh no! Not the dreaded Shmommy Shmon for Samardzija!!

    (Man that cracks me up.)

    Moo!

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