stoveIt’s late April and the Cubs are already struggling. With a “le sigh,” the Lukewarm Stove might be more active earlier than expected.

  • An anonymous general manager, as well as other executives, have some interesting advice for Matt Garza, by way of Buster Olney: sign early. If Garza comes back and pitches well, whether he’s traded or not, the executives think Garza falls into the Kyle Lohse range of pitcher who could really be hurt by waiting too long to sign. “Once you start getting closer to spring training, I think a lot of teams have spent what they want to spend and start getting more comfortable with what they have,” said a GM to Olney. If Garza heeds this advice, it could be good for the Cubs if they want to extend him. After all, what’s the best way to make sure you get paid as early as possible? Well, it’s by signing an extension with your current team, and never facing the uncertain prospect of a draft-pick-tainted market in the first place. Of course, as always, that’s all predicated on a healthy, effective Garza whom the Cubs didn’t trade at the deadline. And, all things considered, if Garza is healthy and effective come July, I think the Cubs will trade him unless he’s ready to sign a team-friendly extension then and there.
  • Rays beat writer Marc Topkin took on Buster Olney’s recent prediction, based on industry conversations, that the Rays would trade David Price at some point this year (during or after the season), and that the leading suitors for Price would be the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Rangers. Topkin says he could see the others, but wouldn’t have the Red Sox on the list, believing that the Rays would demand a huge premium to deal Price within the division. So, with the Red Sox out, that means the Cubs become the prohibitive favorite, right?
  • The Cubs have signed journeyman catcher Jose Morales to a minor league deal. As far as upper-level minor league depth catching options go, the Cubs could do a lot worse than Morales. I’m guessing that the Steve Clevenger injury precipitated the signing.
  • A long take on the oft-discussed Jurickson Profar for Oscar Taveras uber prospect swap that everyone seems to want the Rangers and Cardinals to do … except the Rangers and Cardinals. The two sides haven’t even discussed a deal like that, according to Derrick Goold. Each side seems to perceive too much risk in making the swap and being wrong, even if each side could really stand to have the other side’s player. As a Cubs fan, I really can’t say which uber prospect I’d rather the Cardinals had. Taveras looks like an absolute monster, but Profar fills a desperate organizational need.
  • MLBTradeRumors with a very interesting take on the waiver rules, and how some teams are exploiting them to the detriment of those borderline players. The Cubs don’t come in for specific wrist-slapping, but you could argue that their very regular use of the waiver wire in the attempt to find stash candidates isn’t in the spirit of the waiver process (which is supposed to find borderline players a big league home, rather than burying them at AAA). That said, until/unless the system changes, I’m not going to criticize the Cubs for trying to improve the organization at the margins within the rules.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for the BN fantasy contest, by the way. It’s easy and free. Sign up here. Full details here.
  • DONNIE621

    The Cubs are boring as hell. They might think about improving the B-league team. Makes it more interesting for the fans!

    This is going to be a long year.

  • ETS

    I like how executives are giving Garza advice on when to sign. Isn’t that like Agents giving executives advice on how much to sign players for?

    The lohse situation is an interesting and one of many major flaws in the current CBA.

  • Kyle

    I wish the Cardinals would make that trade. I don’t quite get the Profar hype. The bat just doesn’t seem like it’s going to justify No. 1 prospect status.

    • Spriggs

      I agree. He reminds me more of Royce Clayton type player. I don’t get the hype either.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      The scouts say you can’t scout the stat line.
      I think you are underestimating the age vs league aspect.
      It reminds me of Hanley Ramirez. His bat didn’t look all that great while in the minors, but he was still a top rated prospect. Profar put up better AA numbers than Hanley did and he did it as a 19 year old vs Hanley, a 20 year old.

      • Kyle

        That’s entirely possible.

      • Kyle

        Oops, premature postulation.

        That’s entirely possible. But I’m not saying I don’t think Profar is an awesome prospect. I’m saying I don’t quite get how he is a No. 1 overall prospect. In my mind, No. 1 overall prospects shouldn’t need the “age/level” adjustment. They should be kicking @% regardless of level.

        • Blublud

          Profar is a clearly overrated prospect. His bat will stuggle mightily at the MLB level. If I were the Rays or the Marlins trading a top MLB player, I could think of several players in the top 30 I’d rather have over Profar. The Cardinals would have be absolutely idiots to make that trade.

          BTW, if someone reminds you of Hanley Ramirez, never mention him as #1 anything.

          • Blublud

            Last line was for Norm.

          • Cedlandrum

            For real? Maybe go back and look at Hanley’s numbers to refresh your mind because he was elite for about 5 years.

            As for Profar, I don’t understand all this overrated stuff. He plays the premium defensive position and he has been super young all while playing very well. His averages haven’t been elite, but his on base skills are good, he has decent pop. I just don’t know what the overrated tag is all about.

            • hansman1982

              But what is his BELLYf+ ?

              • Cedlandrum

                I’m missing something.

                • Cedlandrum

                  ah got it now.

            • Blublud

              Maybe for Hanley, but how long did that last.

              As for the overrated profar, I don’t think his position should weight that heavy. He can’t hit for average and will strike out a lot against MLB pitching. He has a little pop, yes. I don’t think he will be nearly as good as Castro. Hell have to win 45 gold gloves in his career to live up to the hype.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                BluBud, where are you getting the idea that he can’t hit for average or will strikeout a lot? He was at 14% in AA last year.

                I guess you’re not high at all on Javier Baez?

                Kyle, the #1 overall thing makes sense but I’m sure there have been plenty of times where the #1 guy wasn’t killing it though. Bryce Harper in AA/AAA?

                • Marc N

                  The average thing is probably from the .276 career BA in the minors.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Profar’s OBP has been a very respectable 0.366, and that’s the important number.

                    What is interesting is that Profar also has been a bit unlucky: his BABiP is only 0.306. HIs singles rate is actually under 20% when he makes contact. I’d bet on that improving. (He’s got good speed, which makes that even a bit more surprising: but Eris is fickle!)

                    • Marc N

                      While the OBP is a good sign for his ISOs in the majors, what’s unlucky about a .306 BABIP?

                    • jt

                      you mentioned this luck thing in another thread and brought up Castro’s 2012 season.
                      Castro had 3 seasons in 2012: 4/5/12 to 5/7/12; 5/8/12 to 8/14/12; 8/15/12 to 10/3/12.
                      His lines:
                      in the first period: 124PA, 350/363/462,
                      6 doubles, 2 trip’s, 1HR, BABIP .400
                      in the second : 367 PA, 246/283/393,
                      9 doubles, 2 trip’s, 10 HR, BABIP .266
                      in the third : 200 PA, 311/370/481,
                      14 doubles, 6 trip’s, 4 HR, BABIP .348
                      The first plus third periods
                      324 PA’s, 20 Doubles, 8 trips, 5HR
                      The 2nd period
                      367 PA’s 9 Doubles, 2 trip’s, 10 HR
                      His BABIP 1st + 3rd period about .368
                      His BABIP 2nd period .266
                      In 43 more PA’s he hit 5 more HR’s but 11 fewer trips and 11 fewer doubles
                      His BABIP speaks for itself.
                      I think it more likely that Castro was swinging for the fences in the 2nd period rather than him being unlucky over a period of 367 continuous PA’s given that he hit 10 HR’s in that 2nd period and only 19 up until the present in his other 1620 career PA’s.
                      The universe only has so much energy + matter + luck. I believe you over estimate the amount of luck.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      You make these assertions without providing a single probability value. So, let’s do that. For ease with the numbers, I’m breaking it down to April, May-August, and Sept-Oct. If your model is true, then the pattern will show itself with these breakpoints.

                      Take Castro’s K-rate. For 14/97, 74/461 and 11/121, the best 3-rate model fitting your partitions has a likelihood of which is approximately 9.3 x 10^-7. The likelihood of a 1-rate model (.145K/PA, the null model in all cases) is 1.2×10-7. (Likelihoods are the exact probabilities of outcomes, by the way, and the basis of what we use to contrast different predictive models). We expect 13% of ballplayers to show this discrepancy when the null hypothesis is true.

                      Similarly, let’s look at his walk rates. We have 3/92, 24/461 and 8/121. The likelihood of of your model given these data is 4.2×10-7; it inches up to 8.8×10-7 under the 1-rate model (0.51BB/PA). We expect nearly half of ball-players to show that much flux by chance.

                      XBH? His frequency of XBH given contact showed even less flux. We have 7 XBH in 76 contacts, 34 in 461 and 12 in 121. The likelihood of hte best model fitting your scenario given these data is 5.4×10^-6; the likelihood of the best single rate model (0.099XBH/Contact) is 4×10^-6. This was actually unusually constant: we expect 75% of players to show this much variation or more.

                      As Occam wrote, never multiply explanations without necessity: and this is nowhere near fitting necessary!

                    • davidalanu

                      He’s got over 1400 minor league plate appearances. Can it really be luck at that point?

                    • Kyle

                      What’s unusual about a .306 BABIP? I don’t know the minor league averages, but the MLB average is usually around .295.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      I thought that miLB BABiP tended to be higher because of field conditions, poorer fielding, more generous scoring etc. However, come to it, I’ve only read that: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it documented! So, my assumption might be faulty there.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Profar put up a .281/.368/.452 line as a 19 year old in AA. That’s a pretty good line in general, and outstanding for a middle infielder OR a guy who is only 19. He was both. Profar put up a .286/.390/.493 line in A ball as an 18 year old, so this was no “helium” season.

        Basically, he’s got a very good eye and good contact skills (12% BB rate & 14% K rate), and good pop, especially for his age (13% XBH rate when he makes contact). From what I’ve read, the source of his power is the same as the source of his strong throwing arm: very strong wrists.

        So, Profar is going to work counts, make solid contact and drive the ball. Oh, he’ll provide plus fielding (his range supposedly is great) at a skill position, too.

        That written, if I’m the Rangers, then I’m holding Profar to use as Price-bait. Yes, Taveras is very, very appealing: but getting a plus LFer is much easier than getting a plus SS or SP.

        • YourResidentJag

          Can’t say I disagree with this. If Martin Perez bounces back, the Rangers also have a SP to put into that trade as well, one who projects fairly high as a prospect as well.

        • bbmoney

          yeah I was checking out those numbers and thinking……I don’t know what’s going on Profar has kicked ass as a 19 Y/O SS in AA. His offensive ceiling likely isn’t as high as Taveras, but it also doesn’t really have to be to be as valuable.

          If the argument is that he’s overrated at #1 and should be in the top 5 well….ok, but that seems more splitting hairs than overrating someone. His numbers are outstanding and I’ve seen no scouting reports with other issues to be concerned about, save for some that think he’s better suited at 2b where the bat still plays very well.

          • davidalanu

            That may be the single most annoying thing I’ve ever read on a baseball blog.

            • davidalanu

              Sorry, reply error. never mind.

        • Cedlandrum

          You complete me.

        • jt

          by rounding off to month (the readable way of saying it) you steal 27 PA’s from the first period and add them to the 2nd. That is 22% of the first’s PA’s…..
          you add 67 PA’s from the 2nd period to the 3rd… that is 33% of the 3rd periods 200 PA’s.
          That road don’t go there.
          A road map helps…LABELS (your students turn in such reports?)
          In the form of PA/K/BB…… Walk rate sucks for all periods
          1st period…124/19/3…15.3%KRate
          2nd period..367/57/18..15.5%KRate
          3rd period…200/25/15…12.5%KRate
          my assertion is that in 43 more PA’s he K’d 13 more times and walked an equal amount when comparing the sum of the first and third periods with that of the the second alone. That is a statistical fart that random fluctuation would explain. He walks about once every 26.7 PA’s. Just what are you getting from that except that he swings early and swings often.
          He K’s about once every 7 PA. What does that tell you except that a guy who makes a lot of contact also swings outside the k zone.
          There is a qualitative difference between the double/triple set and a home run. The ball must be hit harder with more elevation. Point in fact, that is my point. As the warmer weather arrived his stats changed. As the warmer weather left, his stats went back to that which the had been for the rest of his career.
          You just threw a bunch of bull at the wall and none of it stuck. It has to relate.

    • Marc.N

      Give me Taveras the monster over Profar the need filler. Monster bats cover alot of needs and want.

  • IrvingandAshland

    I was curious about this and it isn’t baseball related, feel free to ignore it. I would understand.

    How does advertising work with a site like this? Do you approach the Kane County Cougars or do they approach you? What I’m asking is I’ve worked at a small college paper before that had a website attached to it, but we had to actively find potential advertisers. My roommate works for a larger website at his current job, and he claims advertisers approach them in order to get a piece of ad space.

    Like I said, if this isn’t something you’re comfortable answering, I completely understand. Great piece today.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s a combination of both – some folks I’ve sought out, others have sought me out. Most of the ads, however, come through an intermediary (ad network) that finds ads for me (and takes a healthy cut). Pretty much the only way to do it without a sales staff.

      • DarthHater

        Did you seek out the Asian bride sites? Or did they seek you out? 😉

    • Cubbie Blues

      I’m not Brett (obviously), but I would guess the answer to that question lies in the size of the website in question. A company isn’t going to actively search out lookatmykids.com that get 100 hits a month (mostly the owner checking his page hit count). On the other hand a company would seek out a reputable high hit site like swedish***pump.com.

  • Spriggs

    I’d be all for the cardinals making that trade. I have way more fear of Taveras than Profar.

  • CubFan Paul

    Nice to know opposing GMs are still willing to pay for Garza, if healthy.

  • hansman1982

    “MLBTradeRumors with a very interesting take on the waiver rules, and how some teams are exploiting them to the detriment of those borderline players.”

    Actually, the process works beautifully and the article explains it:

    “From mid-March to mid-April, the Jays claimed Moscoso, Burnett, Gonzalez and Wells, and then removed them from their roster almost immediately. They were successful in getting Gonzalez through waivers, and he’s now pitching at Triple-A Buffalo. ”

    Clearly, these players aren’t worthy of a 40-man spot. It sucks they don’t play while DFA’d but that’s part of them grapes for the benefits elsewhere.

  • DarthHater

    I have a somewhat obscure question about minor league options.

    Suppose a team has a player who is on their 40-man roster and playing at AAA. The player gets a serious injury and is put on the 60-day disabled list, thereby opening a slot on the 40-man roster. When the injured player is ready to return, the team has (or manages to create) an open slot for him on the 40-man roster and they want to send him back to AAA, where he was playing before the injury.

    Question: In this situation, does one of the returning player’s minor league options get used up when the team sends him back to AAA? If so, what’s the rationale, since the player was never actually on the ML 25-man roster in the above scenario?

    Can any of you rules experts shed light on this?

    • JulioZuleta

      That was the most un-Darthish post I’ve ever seen out of you….

      • DarthHater


        Happy now? 😛

        • hansman1982

          There’s no meme with it, so no.

          • DarthHater


            There. 😉

    • hansman1982

      Any time a player is on the 40-man roster and is in the minors, an option year gets used up.

      A player, typically, can spend any part of 3 separate years in the minors while on the 40-man before waivers become an issue.

      Take last year with Castillo. He came up, got injured, sent back down and called up again. That used 1 option. If Castro and Rizzo get sent down tomorrow and not called up until next year, that uses 1 option. Jorge Soler, used 1 option last year (although I believe he gets 4 options).

      • hansman1982

        Conversely, you can call a guy up for opening day, send him down the next day, wait 10 days, call him back up for 1 day, send him down for 10 days and repeat this throughout the season and only use 1 option.

        Although, this would be kind of a dickish move to do this to three players (you’d need two others you could rotate into his slot for those 10 days.

      • DarthHater

        Let me see if I understand . In my example, the player was already on the 40-man and playing at AAA, so he already has one option used up for that season. If he comes off the DL and goes back to AAA during the same season, then no option gets used up because he has already used one for that season. But if he comes back during a subsequent season and goes to AAA, then another option gets used up. N’est-ce pas?

        • hansman1982

          Yup, that is the jist of it.

          • DarthHater

            Thank you.

            • pete

              See, if we were in Germany, I’d have to make your bunk. But we’re in Italy, so you have to make mine. It’s regulations.

              • Stevie B

                Good stuff Pete….

              • MightyBear

                God I miss John Candy. He was funny as hell.

  • JulioZuleta

    Has anyone heard anything new about Concepcion? I know he was sent off the 40 man, but any word on when he’ll pitch again/ what the issue is?

    • King Jeff

      He’s on “limited activity rehab” in extended spring training.

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    If Garza is pitching well I just don’t get why they would want to trade him, seems to me a #2 28 year old pitcher is what they should be looking to sign.

    • Kubphan82

      Yeah, but Garza hasn’t been the pitcher we traded for, and now injuries, and yet he may fit the bill for what the Cubs are looking for… So if he’s really traded this year, the Cubs, who are closest to his situation, must have seen something they didn’t like… A risk they see not worth the investment. I hope he pitches well but I’m indifferent as to whether he stays…

      • Koyie Hill Sucks

        He pitched pretty well when he was healthy, and he has never really had a problem with injuries so it might be just a one time thing.

        Also they were looking at trading him when he was healthy and pitching good which I didn’t get at the time and I still don’t.

        Besides what really can you get for him at this stage? a low minor pitcher that projects to a #2,3?(if that) when you would be giving up a #2 pitcher? No thanks

        • Chad

          He’ll bring in a lot more than that if he can start pitching in a few weeks and does well. A lot more.

          • Koyie Hill Sucks

            Not a lot more than the cubs gave up for him, imo.

            • Chad

              But it was a lot more than a low minor pitcher that projected well.

  • Chad

    Maybe he is just going to want too much money. If he wants a similar deal to Edwin Jackson or Anibal Sanchez do you want the cubs to give him that? I’m not sure I do. He hasn’t been healthy in a while and who knows if it will continue or not? I really like Garza and I would love to get him extended, but if you can’t get him for a pretty good bargain then I think you need to trade him. Maybe get a few pieces you can send to Tampa in a trade for Price. I’d like that even more.

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Don’t extend Garza, we have already wasted tons of money on him. Trade him as soon as he puts 4 or 5 good starts together. Who else was bidding 5.5 Mill for Scott Baker ? And who is going to take him in a trade If he comes back, no one comes back after that surgery and is dominant right away.( Carpenter & Wainwright) it takes about a year of pitching.

  • gutshot5820

    Maybe if we stop signing all these post Tommy John surgery/injured pitchers, we would have some extra money to sign players that are actually good. Feldman, Baker, Chang-Yong Lim. We actually had a pretty good pitcher named Maholm that we traded for guess what? Another Tommy John pitcher, Clearly, this post TJ surgery strategy is not working well so far.

    My early season wish list for next year:
    Paul Maholm
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Shin-Soo Chin
    Trade for Headley
    Re-sign Garza

  • Cedlandrum

    I love Choo but I can’t see the Cubs signing him, just from the point he will be 31 next year and will probably get a pretty decent deal. He would be fun to watch though.

  • JulioZuleta

    ESPN reporting a loose link between Biogenesis and Cano. Nothing real concrete…but it’ll be itneresting to see how an absolute rookie agent handles it. There’s always been some PED smoke surrounding Cano. Man, leaving Boras for Jay-Z was one of the single dumbest things I’ve seen an athlete do.

    • Cyranojoe


    • King Jeff

      The Cano/Biogenesis rumors have been around since the WBC was being played. It is a little surprising that ESPN is just now picking up on it. I think we were even making jokes about how funny it would be to see the number of Yankees go down for cheating as was being listed.

  • Marc N

    Some fun with the numbers of my current favorite Cubs minor league to follow, Jeimer Candelario, after his 2 BB/1 2B game today:

    He is the youngest player on the Kane County roster by almost 10 full months. He has a healthy lead in BBs drawn on the roster, has less Ks than every 50+ PA starter except Hernanez, has the most doubles on the roster, and is behind only Shoulders in XBHs.

    League context would be that his OPS entering the day was 12% better than the league average. His OPS went up today. He is two full years below the average age in the league. With 7 doubles he’s tied for the league lead. With 11 walks he will be tied for third in the league.

    Season slash line at: .290/.391/.403/74 PA/62 ABs/7 2Bs/8 K’s/11 BB’s

    OPS is currently at 15.3% better than league average.

  • Die hard

    Garza to the Rangers for Borbon and others

    • JulioZuleta

      Good idea.

  • Whiteflag

    I can’t wait til Garza signs an extension or is traded. Then we will never have to read this statement everyday.

  • Whiteflag

    Swap ever again for everyday. My bad.

  • Rebuilding

    I would like to see Garza flipped to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson. 21 yo, lefty CF who is mashing in AA. He’s blocked by Kemp in LA and the Dodgers are down to pitching Stephen Fife with Capuano and Billingsley hurt. Here’s Peterson’s baseball reference page:


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