Logan Watkins, Neil Ramirez, Junior Lake, Biogenesis Suspensions and Other Vacation Bullets

junior lake cubsDay one of being largely unplugged was tough. I’m having fun with the family, make no mistake. But obviously I feel awfully connected to this world (the site, the Cubs, the ‘net generally), and it’s hard to stop the constant checking. I don’t know when it happened, but I became one of “those people.” I suppose that’s why vacations like this are important. I know, I know – #FirstWorldProblems, #BloggerProblems. There are absolutely no complaint here. Just reflection.

  • … not that I was terribly broken up to have missed yesterday’s game (which, ok, confession: I did check in on my phone a couple times … ), where the Cubs were shut out once again by the Dodgers. That marked two straight shutouts for the Cubs, and 23 straight scoreless innings. The Cubs outhit the Dodgers 7-2 yesterday, but didn’t to much with runners on, spoiling a very nice outing from Carlos Villanueva.
  • Random note from yesterday’s game: after pitching in a situational, mostly lefty-on-lefty role for the entire month of July, James Russell pitched his second straight full inning against the Dodgers yesterday (having done it also on Friday). If you were inclined to be inquisitive, you’d wonder why the change suddenly after the Trade Deadline passed. But, even if there is some kind of relationship there, it could be less about “protecting” Russell’s stats as it was about giving other guys more work. Also, keep in mind, the Cubs were fairly competitive in July, and Russell’s 14 July appearances came in games in which the Cubs were leading, or trailed by no more than one run (except for two games). In other words, they tended to call for situational appearances. Of course, yesterday’s game was a 1-0 affair when Russell entered, and ultimately faced two righties and a lefty.
  • Logan Watkins was largely the story yesterday, having been called up to make his big league debut as Luis Valbuena hit the disabled list. Watkins, 23, was the organization’s Player of the Year last year, as was added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft (for which he was eligible). Clearly, he’s been valued by this front office. The rub for Watkins – if he wanted to be a future starter – has been two-fold: (1) his performance this year at Iowa has been mixed, hitting just .243/.333/.379 (his BABIP – .300 – is quite a bit lower than his previous marks, which were in the .340 range); (2) if a second baseman of the future is in the upper levels of the system, it is probably now believed to be Arismendy Alcantara. So, if Watkins is going to stick in the bigs, it may have to be as a utility guy. Fortunately for Watkins, he can play all over the field, and can play the more important defensive positions reasonably well. Many folks believe he could have a long, big-league career as a complementary piece. Watkins started at second base yesterday in place of Darwin Barney yesterday, going 1-4 with a single.
  • Dale Sveum suggested that Watkins won’t be playing every day, though, indicating that the start was more about giving Barney two days off (including today’s off-day).
  • The Cubs are due to receive a player to be named later (or two – if they don’t choose a single player from List A, they get two players from list B), and that player, if healthy, is expected to be pitching prospect Neil Ramirez. He recently spoke to MLB.com, as recounted by Carrie Muskat here, about his shoulder issues. He’s been throwing in the bullpen while on the disabled list, and could be returning soon. The Cubs – and all of us – will be watching his performances the rest of the year quite closely.
  • With Luis Valbuena out, Dale Sveum would not rule out the possibility that Junior Lake sees some time at third base this year. Having played third base before in his career, Lake came up to the Cubs to play in the outfield (where he hadn’t played, really, in his career), which he is learning rapidly. Would the Cubs really want to interrupt that progress? It’s actually not a rhetorical question, given that Lake’s future with the club might be in more of a utility role than as a starting outfielder.
  • If you didn’t catch it in the Minor League Daily this morning, Smokies on the Radio has a great piece on Javier Baez’s improving approach at the plate, and the kinds of things he’s been working on at Tennessee.
  • Baseball Prospectus takes a brief look at Kris Bryant, among other prospects around baseball, noting that his power has been evident so far in his minor league career, and he’s getting passing marks at third base. Long-term, he’ll have to keep his strikeout rate in check, and might ultimately offer a better fit in right field (where he could be a plus defender). After a slow-ish start, Bryant’s season line at Boise is up to .292/.352/.583, including a 1.137 OPS in his last 10 games. That’s pretty much what you were expecting he’d do at this level.
  • It sounds like Alex Rodriguez is going to be suspended for the rest of this and next season by MLB today, and it also sounds like he plans to appeal – meaning he could play as soon as today. Fun times for New York and national writers, I’d expect.
  • About 12 other players are expected to be suspended for their connection to the Biogenesis clinic today, as well. Most of the names have been reported, but there could be a handful of surprises. They are not presently expected to be big-time players, but that doesn’t mean their identification won’t be interesting.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

149 responses to “Logan Watkins, Neil Ramirez, Junior Lake, Biogenesis Suspensions and Other Vacation Bullets”

  1. fromthemitten

    I remember Clemens being named in the Mitchell Report being a massive bombshell that I sure as hell didn’t suspect. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody big gets named amongst the usual suspects.

  2. ssckelley

    I will be curious to hear the fans reaction when ARods name gets called.

  3. Bails17

    I was at the game yesterday with my daughter (her first game). I was real upbeat until Dale let Ransom swing away with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs late in the game (either the 6th or 7th I think). I know Navarro was on 2nd, but come on really. 1 – 0 game and we are doing that crap. Other than a nice outing on the mound, that was the worst game I have seen at Wrigley. So disappointed in our hitting w RISP along with that decision by Dale. Would have loved to have been able to sing the song with my daughter for her first game. #thatreallysucked

    1. Nate

      I was watching at home thinking the same thing. The it was pointed out that Watkins and Murphy, both just up from the minors, were the next two to bat and Dale likely didn’t want to leave it up to them to drive in the runs. It didn’t work. In hindsight, bad call. At the time, somewhat understandable.

      1. Bails17

        Well…I don’t see it that way. You have a guy in Ransom that is a dead pull hitter and currently hitting just above .200 this year…even worse, here is his line vs righties (164/270/309). So you want to leave it up to this guy? Come on. Terrible call. Rizzo is the ONLY guy that should not be bunting in that situation. If Ransom gets the bunt down, the infield comes in and Watkins duck fart scores two. There is nothing understandable about the call. You can play devils advocate on who is coming up and who is on second. But when you look at Ransom’s line vs righties….it’s a very easy call to make. I don’t give a shit who is on deck or in the hole.

        1. CubFan Paul

          But, I thought bunting was overrated?

          1. Bails17

            Never heard that from me.

          2. hansman1982

            For guys who can hit the ball, it is. For pitchers and guys who hit like pitchers, it isn’t.

            1. Bails17

              I tend to be the guy that doesn’t bunt early in a game. But late in a game, 1st and 2nd, no outs. Come on…you better have a REAL good excuse why you are not bunting right there in a one run game. That is a bunting situation all the way. Unless you have a guy at the plate that gives you a reason not to bunt. But that was far from the case yesterday.

  4. Melrosepad

    I’m really hoping they give Watkins some games over at third. I really don’t want to see Ransom starting all of those games while Valbuena is out. Let the 23 year old have a shot as the 37 year old Ransom shouldn’t be in the plans for next year.

    1. ssckelley

      He has only played 3rd one game over his entire minor league career. I think a better option would be to give Lake a few games at third. Watkins does have experience playing the outfield.

      1. hansman1982

        You wanna get fans all in a tizzy? Slide Castro over, play Barney at SS and Watkins at 2B.

        1. deej34

          I completely agree with this setup and have been calling for it for over a year. I really like Darwin a lot, but I wonder if they are “protecting” Barney’s “value” by keeping him as one of the best defensive second basemen instead of making him an above-average shortstop and protecting Castro’s “value” hoping he can hit how he did last year at a premium position… thoughts?

          1. ssckelley

            The Cubs need to get more than a shortstop’s production at third base. Barney, and his .593 OPS, should not be anything more than a defensive utility player.

          2. hansman1982

            No, I think that the FO believes that Castro is a good defensive SS whos offensive production will continue to be well above-average at SS. He had a 2-month slump and since the end of June has done really well at the plate.

            Coincidentally, his 2-month slump ties in with a new baby at home.

            1. Jon

              He really needs to keep “it” in his pants.

      2. Melrosepad

        But if his way to staying in the bigs is being a utility guy then he will have to learn. We threw Lake out into the OF with all of 6 games played in the the minors so it isn’t a stretch that we could do the same with Watkins.

        1. ssckelley

          There could be other reasons why he has not played more at 3rd, it is possible he might not have the arm for it. Lakes role at the MLB level may also be as a utility player so the experience at 3rd would do him good as well.

          1. Scotti

            Lake should never, ever play MLB 3B. He is awful there (31 errors in 93 career games–that’s 54 errors in a full season). They love his arm and have been hoping against hope that he will settle in to SS or 3B because that’s were his arm “fits.” Time to move on. He’s show little to no improvement. Given repetition he may be a serviceable 2B and OF (all three).

            1. TheDondino

              The guy is fielding 3B just as well as Mike Olt is and Olt’s considered an above average prospect at 3B. Olt for the season is at .921 and Lake for the year was .919 at 3B. If Olt’s defense is considered good to great for the position, how much better does Lake need to get before we should at least give him a look?

              1. Scotti

                Sigh, Olt has a career .941 fielding percentage at 3B. Olt’s numbers this year are, like his offense, depressed likely because of the concussion and vision problems. Prior to this season he hadn’t experienced anything like his low fielding percentage this season.

                1. TheDondino

                  We’re not saying Lake is the 2nd coming of Mike Schmidt. But the guy is at least serviceable at the position, especially when we’re talking about August and September of a lost year when we have no other viable alternatives for the position. What possible down-side is there to playing Lake at 3B at least part-time down the stretch?

                  If he sucks, oh well, we weren’t winning games anyways and at least we’ll know going into the off-season that he will not be an option there for next year. We can plan our FA moves accordingly. If he plays passably, then we have the option of letting him hold the position down until Olt fixes his offensive struggles and get promoted at which time, Lake moves to the OF or into his super-sub role. If he plays better than expected, then he can be the bridge to Baez/Bryant and Olt can become a trade chip if need be. Knowing what we have with Lake at 3B is valuable information on a lot of fronts and it costs us nothing.

                  1. Scotti

                    “But the guy is at least serviceable at the position…”

                    I disagree. If I thought he was serviceable I would think that his playing the OF is a waste of time.

                    “What possible down-side is there to playing Lake at 3B at least part-time down the stretch?”

                    While I’m not one who believes any failure in MLB is detrimental, I do believe that LARGE failures can be detrimental. Fans booing, front page “Man Does Lake Suck How The Mighty Have Fallen” articles, 4 error days (and getting yanked in the middle of a game) all followed by 28 people trying to “fix” you can blow a prospect’s mind. Playing him part-time? That means he is even more likely to suck at third. Bad plan.

                    “…at least we’ll know going into the off-season…”

                    This FO isn’t stupid. They don’t need to see him play in Wrigley to determine of he can play 3B. 3B in Des Moines is the same as it is here. If their people need to have him at 3B in Wrigley to see flaws and work with him then they ain’t as bright as I think. They’ve had him for two years. They know what they have.

              2. Kyle

                Step 1: stop using fielding percentage as a proxy for how well a guy is fielding.

                Lake is awful at 3b.

                1. Nye

                  No, he is not Kyle. You will probably get a chance to see soon. I have seen him play many games at short and quite a few at third. No disaster at all. Enjoy this kid–he is special with 5 tools.

                  1. Scotti

                    Lucky for you that you missed his 174 errors at 3B and SS. That notwithstanding, he has 174 errors at 3B and SS–an average of 55 on a 162 game season. Castro (they were signed the same year) averages 29 (per 162) since getting the call and some folks excoriate him for his defense.

                    He is special. He has special tools. He isn’t a left side of the infield defender.

      3. Scotti

        Lake has a career .887 fielding percentage at 3B (31 errors in 93 games). He would lead all of baseball (including the Little Leagues) in errors if he played a full season at 3B. Playing him there would be stupid. I expect to see him play there sometime this season.

        1. CubsFaninMS

          With his throw to home plate that ended up one state over, I’d say he may have some issues with errant throws at third. Just a hunch, though.

          1. Scotti

            I’m inclined to give him a pass on that throw. They’ve decided to not stretch his arm out for outfield play just yet and that makes a huge difference (IMO, they intend to see what he looks like at 3B–yuck).

        2. TheDondino

          But his numbers at 3B have been trending upward as he’s progressed through his minor league career. .818, .850, .899, .919. He’s not great yet, but he’s been getting better and the couple of times I saw him there just before his call up, he looked real good. The instincts are there, the arm is there. I think he can be more than serviceable at the hot-corner. At a minimum, we should give him a few starts there down the stretch so that we can see if we at least have the option of making him our everyday 3B next year.

          1. Scotti

            “…so that we can see if we at least have the option of making him our everyday 3B next year.”

            No. I lead the pack when it comes to talking about neural pathways needing to be developed with younger players but Lake is well past the point were he should have had a light go on.

            Trending up is nice. Trending up to .919 isn’t nice. SS is much the same as 3B. For example, if Baez moves to 3B you should expect a year transition in the minors. Lake has been playing the left side of the diamond since he was signed (over 500 games and 2,150 chances through 7 seasons) and he hasn’t shown the improvement that you should see if he was going to develop into a COMPETENT left side of the infield player.

            The worst qualified fielding percentage this season in MLB at 3B is .932 (the median is .963 and the leader is .987). To get down to .919 territory (in all of MLB) you have to start filtering for guys at less than 40 games started (small sample size). To be sure, fielding percentage can be overblown but he’s well off the beaten path here.

            I have been a big proponent of Lake’s bat since they fixed the hitch down at Daytona but he’s never shown the improvement that he needs to show for me to be a believer in his glove for the left side.

        3. ssckelley

          Go look at his fielding numbers at Iowa this year, they were not that bad in fact much better than Stewart and Vitters combined. Lake played 36 games at 3rd while Stewart and Vitters combined for 40. Lake committed 9 errors, they had 9. Lake started 8 double plays, they had 7. Lake had 111 chances (in less games) while Vitters/Stewart only had 88. This suggests Lake must have good foot work to get to more balls and give himself more chances to make an out. I am unfamiliar with how good Nelson is at first base but I would guess Rizzo is an upgrade, so perhaps Lake would not have made as many errors. I know Rizzo’s glove has saved Castro quite a few errors this season.

          1. Scotti

            First, we’re talking about small sample sizes (that’s why I used his larger career sample which is mostly the last two years (meaning it is relevant)). Things like “started 8 double plays” is just irrelevant. Second, trying to deduce a guys footwork through stats is dubious to the extreme. Third, suspecting that a guy’s errors will go down because he has a better 1B just never seem to pan out. The guys the Cubs have over at 1B in the minors aren’t causing Lake’s errors. Lake is causing his errors. If a great defender at 1B saves 1-2 errors on the season for a SS or 3B that’s a good haul. 1-2 fewer errors would not greatly impact Lake’s outlook. Lake has a pattern and he’s not greatly improved upon that pattern.

            “Go look at his fielding numbers at Iowa this year…”

            I don’t comment on a player’s fielding without being very well versed on his stats. I check the players’ fielding stats each year and, if it’s a prospect that I’m interested in, numerous times a year. I’ve been watching Lake’s since he came stateside. I know Lake’s abilities (and why they are so tempted to keep trying him on the left side) and I know his stats.

            1. ssckelley

              You are to quick to dismiss Lake at third base, as someone else pointed out he has shown an improvement at each step of the way. You use SSS as your argument yet you fail to recognize that Lake has only had 93 career games in the minors at 3rd. Many have said that Villanueva is the best 3rd base prospect the Cubs have defensively and yet he only has a .931 fielding percentage. You say that the amount of chances shows nothing for footwork but who do you think gets to more balls, Vitters or Lake?

              When Lake played 3rd for Iowa he averaged almost 1 extra chance per game than anybody else that played 3rd base outside of Olt. If you are so good at looking at stats then take a look at how Lake would compare defensively at 3rd base to the other starters in the NL central. Alvarez is the only one who comes close at chances per game (averages 3.0) with a .933 fielding percentage. If you like fielding percentage then you love the starter for Cincinnati, his fielding percentage is .973 but only averages 2.18 per game. I will trade fielding percentage for a guy that creates more chances.

              1. Kyle

                It’s not quick to dismiss someone who is 23 years old, has been in the professional leagues for seven years.

                He’s shown some amount of improvement, but nowhere near enough to be an acceptable MLB option in the infield on more than an emergency basis.

                1. ssckelley

                  In those 7 years he has spent a grand total of 93 games at third.

                  1. Kyle

                    And that’s why I said “infield” and not “3b.”

              2. Scotti

                “You are to quick to dismiss Lake at third base…”

                Seven years isn’t “quick.”

                “…as someone else pointed out he has shown an improvement at each step of the way.”

                And, as I pointed out, his improvement hasn’t gotten him anywhere near decent.

                “You use SSS as your argument yet you fail to recognize that Lake has only had 93 career games in the minors at 3rd.”

                Simply not true. I’ve pointed out numerous times that he has 93 career games at third. 93 games is a statistically significant amount. Add to that (as I have explained) his experience at SS and the guy has had plenty of experience on the left side of the infield to demonstrate that he just isn’t going to develop there.

                “Many have said that Villanueva is the best 3rd base prospect the Cubs have defensively and yet he only has a .931 fielding percentage.”

                Villanueva has a career .934 fielding percentage and that is leagues better than Lake’s career .887. Villanueva’s progression through the minors shows what you would expect: he sucked his first year (.861), made drastic improvements his second year (at .917 basically as high as Lake has EVER been) and by his third year he was up in decent territory (.942). The two are simply not credibly comparable. Lake has more tools but he has not been able to harness them on the left side of the infield (and seven years is more than enough time to figure it out).

                “You say that the amount of chances shows nothing for footwork but who do you think gets to more balls, Vitters or Lake?”

                The amount of chances a guy gets in a SSS (especially in the minors) is insufficient to determine range. Period. Now, if you want to make the case that Lake is more rangy, you can make that case based on eyewitness reports and observations but to try make it with SSS (Vitters has all of 17 games there this year) just strains credulity. To invent a combo Vitters/Stewart player to avoid SSS is just the icing on the cake (and I hate icing).

                Re. range: Fielding percentage is controllable by a given player (i.e. you made the error). Range is influenced by outside factors like the type of pitching staff (pitch to contact, K, GB/FB, types of pitches thrown, etc.) and the skill of guys around you (range is influenced by assists from other players, balls that should have been reached by another player (in this case SS) who didn’t get to it, etc.).

                ” Alvarez is the only one who comes close at chances per game (averages 3.0)…”

                Not sure where you’re getting Lake or Alvarez averaging 3.0 (neither are or have) but Lake’s career RF/G is 2.62. This year 9 of the 25 qualified 3B have better RF/G and ALL 25 are WAY better in fielding %.

                “I will trade fielding percentage for a guy that creates more chances.”

                1. ssckelley

                  I think part of the problem is both you and Kyle feel short and third are one and the same while I don’t. A big reason why he is being moved to outfield and/or third base is because of Castro and Baez. Every scouting report I read pretty much says the same thing, he has, at times, “highlight reel defense” but will probably end up at 3rd or outfield because of his cannon for an arm. Another said “best arm in all minor league baseball” with a likely landing spot of 3rd or centerfield.

                  My comparisons of Lake to Vitters/Stewarts was not to make up SSS but rather to compare all the 3rd basemen at Iowa. This pretty much answers your point later on the skill set of the other infield positions since they all pretty much played next to the same shortstop (Murphy).

                  I seen you mention the 93 games, I can read, but obviously you feel that is a big enough sample size spread out through 7 years to say Lake cannot play 3rd base. I disagree, I think a 23 year old prospect deserves more than 93 games at a position before saying he cannot play there.

                  1. Scotti

                    “I think part of the problem is both you and Kyle feel short and third are one and the same while I don’t.”

                    I don’t feel it’s precisely the same thing, no, but when it comes to A) fielding ground balls and B) making most of the throws it gives you all the information you need to know. Hard hit grounders eat a guy up at SS? They will eat him up doubly at 3B. SS throws errantly from the hole? That’s about where the 3B throws from.

                    That’s why teams will have a 3B who is rangy enough play SS in the minors. He gets to more balls at SS (more repetition) thus developing his hand-eye coordination (neural pathways) at a faster rate. We’ve had this discussion numerous times here re. Baez and 3B. Even if you think he’s a 3B and not a SS there’s no reason to move him until you have to (about half to a full season). And, again, he’s getting nearly double the reps at SS so it just makes sense to keep him a SS for now.

                    “Every scouting report I read pretty much says the same thing, he has, at times, “highlight reel defense” but will probably end up at 3rd or outfield because of his cannon for an arm.”

                    His arm hasn’t moved him off of SS. His inconsistencies have. Highlight Reel plays only get you so far. Can you play consistently enough to reach the floor of what is an acceptable error rate? He didn’t. That’s why they moved him.

                    “This pretty much answers your point later on the skill set of the other infield positions since they all pretty much played next to the same shortstop (Murphy).”

                    No, it doesn’t because of SSS all around (for all three 3B). You make the argument for the SSS for this year but you’re not cool with a much larger sample size over his career (most of which is from the most recent two years combined). That inconsistency makes no sense.

                    And the larger factor for range equivalence is the pitching staff (that’s why I mentioned it first). Especially with a SSS, you could have a given fielder start in several games pitched by an extreme sinker baller and “the other guy” start in several games by an extreme flyball pitcher. That would skew those numbers pretty hard. Given large sample sizes (multiple years), and comparing apples to apples (MLB to MLB (AL to AL, NL to NL), MiLB to MiLB), I believe that RF/9 is a useable stat (many don’t).

                  2. Kyle

                    Of course I don’t think that. But I do think that we can learn a lot about a player’s basic skill sets watching him play SS. Scouts aren’t saying Lake moved off SS because of a lack of range, which would mean he should be able to handle 3b just fine.

                    His struggles at 3b are perfectly predicted by his struggles at SS: The guy just does not have the basic skills to play the infield, regardless of his athletic ability.

              3. Scotti

                “I will trade fielding percentage for a guy that creates more chances.”

                Generally speaking, so will I. Shawon Dunston, Sr. was WAY better than the Cub version of sure-handed Larry Bowa. But there is a floor when it comes to an acceptable error rate and Junior Lake is WAY south of that.

                I am also the first guy to point out that players who have low fielding percentages in the low minors should be given ample time because they need more repetitions to develop deeply ingrained neural pathways. Again, Lake just hasn’t developed. Time to play/develop him somewhere that he doesn’t hurt the team and get some value from him. The FO “knows” what they have here. Time to turn the page and allow him to develop in the OF.

                1. ssckelley

                  Funny you bring up Shawon Dunston, a player who once had 58 errors in 1 season in the minor leagues. I am sure you would have been saying stuff like “stupid” to be playing him there had this board existed back then.

                  I doubt Lake would have been moved from shortstop had it not been for Castro and Baez.

                  1. Kyle

                    If Lake had the slightest shred of a chance of still playing SS, he’d still be playing SS this season when he was in Iowa, regardless of who else we had.

                    1. ssckelley

                      That would not make any sense. They just signed Castro to a huge extension the only way Lake was going to get to the next level was by playing a different position.

                    2. Kyle

                      Lake’s trade value as a SS would be through the roof.

                    3. ssckelley

                      Who’s to say he hasn’t had a high trade value but the FO has refused to trade him? He has not exactly been lighting up the minors at the plate so I would not think his value would be to incredibly high, even for a shortstop.

                      Let me not back myself into a corner here, I am not suggesting Lake will be the Cubs future 3rd baseman. With Valbuena hurt, Ransom is not the future, and the Cubs not going anywhere this season I think they should give Lake a few games to prove what he can do at 3rd. I would also rather see Watkins play the rest of the year at 2nd over Barney. At this point I am all about building towards next season, neither Lake or Watkins may be part of that future but let’s use the rest of this season to find out.

                    4. Kyle

                      Who’s to say he couldn’t secretly have 60 HR power but the front office has told him to intentionally not use it in order to spring it on the league in a future season when we’re more competitive?

                      Who’s to say can be used to justify a lot of things that are silly.

                  2. Scotti

                    “Funny you bring up Shawon Dunston, a player who once had 58 errors in 1 season in the minor leagues. I am sure you would have been saying stuff like “stupid” to be playing him there had this board existed back then.”

                    I’m sure you are wrong (I am also sure that you haven’t been paying attention). As I ALREADY said, I’m FIRMLY in the “range is more important than fielding percentage” camp and I am also FIRMLY in the “young players need repetition to develop eye-hand coordination (neural pathways)” camp.

                    However, Lake has had plenty of repetitions. He hasn’t improved anywhere near enough. There is a floor when it comes to error rate and Lake is in the sub-basement after seven years.

                    Given that I am firmly in both of those camps, the fact that I’m not in the “Lake is a 3B” camp is telling. The fact that you are apparently STILL in the “Lake is a SS” camp (“I doubt Lake would have been moved from shortstop had it not been for Castro and Baez.”?!?) is even more telling. Nuff said. Wink, wink. Nod, nod.

                    1. ssckelley

                      Your last paragraph I agree, YAY! :D

                      Still been an interesting debate, blogs and forums would be boring if we all agreed with each other.

                    2. Scotti

                      “Still been an interesting debate, blogs and forums would be boring if we all agreed with each other.”

                      I’ll give you that. Keep it interesting for me. Especially while Brett is on vacation…

                  3. Scotti

                    “I think they should give Lake a few games to prove what he can do at 3rd. I would also rather see Watkins play the rest of the year at 2nd over Barney. At this point I am all about building towards next season, neither Lake or Watkins may be part of that future but let’s use the rest of this season to find out.”

                    ssck (can I call you ssck?), the Cubs don’t need a few games to “figure out what we have here.” FANS might need that but the Cubs don’t. A handful of games at 3B isn’t going to show them what they don’t already know from hundreds of games in the minors. 3B is 3B. It doesn’t get harder in MLB. They know what he does over there.

                    The argument people have of bringing a guy up to “see what we have” is exclusively for hitting (can he handle MLB pitching) when it comes to positional players. Defense is just about the same at every level. Even then, SSS still applies.

                    1. ssckelley

                      It is not 100′s of games, he played 93 at 3rd base.

                      It does not matter what I think the Cubs should do, it is up to the coached on whether they need to see him at 3rd or not. I believe you were commenting earlier that Sveum said he might get a few starts at 3rd, perhaps he does want to see what Lake has got at 3rd.

                      The point I was making is use the remaining games to see what might help the club in 2014. Guys like Ransom and Barney have shown what they can do time to give some of the other guys a shot. This off season the Cubs are going to have to make some difficult decisions on who they protect and expose to the Rule 5 draft.

                    2. Scotti

                      “It is not 100′s of games, he played 93 at 3rd base.”

                      The guy has played well over 500 games on the left side of the infield. Neurologically, fielding the typical ball at short is the same as fielding the ball at 3B. If a guy hasn’t shown he can field ground balls and throw them across the diamond with any proficiency after 500 official games (and many more practices, spring training games, playoff games, fall games, winter games, etc.) then he just isn’t going to magically figure it all out one day. His SS/3B ship has sailed.

                      “I believe you were commenting earlier that Sveum said he might get a few starts at 3rd, perhaps he does want to see what Lake has got at 3rd.”

                      Correct. Sveum wants to see Lake at third. He also has said that when a guy is hot, “You don’t mess with that.” I hope he chooses to not mess with that. There’s no point in Sveum seeing Lake at third anymore point in the fans seeing Lake at third.

                      “The point I was making is use the remaining games to see what might help the club in 2014.”

                      Seeing Lake put up a .915-.925 fielding percentage (I’m being generous) at third doesn’t help the Cubs in 2014 or any other season. Having him develop as an outfielder who actually CAN play all three spots (something he HAS really taken to and shown a SKILL for) does help the Cubs in 2014 and beyond.

                      “This off season the Cubs are going to have to make some difficult decisions on who they protect and expose to the Rule 5 draft.”

                      And Lake will not be exposed. Not even close. “Seeing what he can do” at third plays no part in the Rule 5 draft.

                    3. ssckelley

                      I was not suggesting Lake was going to be exposed.

                      You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on the whole playing on the left side of the infield to justify not playing him at 3rd.

      4. Kyle

        I think the fact that Lake is not playing the infield is a good sign of how likely the front office believes it is that he’ll be able to handle the infield.

        1. Scotti

          Sadly, the team has said that they are not stretching his arm out for the OF (indication #1 that they will play him some at 3B) and Sveumgali (okay, that’s bad, forgive me Baby Jesus) has said he might get some time at 3B (indication #2). I expect it to happen. It’s wrong. Long past time to move on (and he’s looking decent in the OF–stick to what works).

          1. Cedlandrum

            His arm doesn’t need to be stretched out for the outfield. He has one of the best arms in all of baseball.

            1. Paul

              Lake has by far the best arm in organization. He has better discipline with throwing than Castro. If you get to see him at third, he will just be fine. Unbelievable that he could come up to bigs in center field and do so well out there. No experience at all there. I have seen him play in person for years and especially for two seasons at the best prospect league in the world. 12 weeks is a pretty good sample and in 2011 he hit 5 home runs and batted .296 in the 3rd hole. Junior is a lot like Baez–gets bored playing down and rises to the occasion when with better competition. Enjoy this little street kid because ball is all he knows. Rough background–enough said.

            2. Scotti

              The outfield throw is different than the infield throw. You run the risk of injury if you throw like you do in the infield while playing the outfield (and that’s why they told him, before he played a single game in MLB, to just hit the cutoff man). That’s also likely why he airmailed that throw. We’re lucky he didn’t hurt himself. His arm needs to be stretched out for the outfield.

              1. Nye

                Soriano , a former infielder threw frequently with his wrist–therefore the ball sailed on him. Junior has to come over the top and it is pretty easy to learn. Dejesus and Schierholtz both come directly over the top very well–Marlon Byrd would be the model for over the top. Almost impossible to hurt arm that way.

    2. Jim

      I am really expecting an infield of Rizzo, Alcantara, Castro, and Olt at some point next year. That being said, if Barney isn’t moved is Watkins a true Utility option? I do like the option of playing Watkins and Lake at 3B since they might be fighting each other for a roster spot next year. Advantage so far: Lake.

  5. CubsFaninMS

    Don’t feel bad about working a little over vacation, Brett. Some people say you HAVE to disconnect when you go on vacation. (1) That depends on what type of vacation and (2) What kind of person you are. I love my job and it requires me to make decisions while I’m on vacation and work some. I don’t mind at all. If you truly enjoy your job, as long as you’re getting your important family time in and everyone is happy, it’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you enjoy yourself, man!

    1. Scotti

      Well said. If you love what you do it makes all the difference.

  6. Edwin

    I’m sure someone else has asked this, but when is CJ Edwards scheduled to pitch next?

    It seems it would be wise to try and build stadiums with retractable roofs for the FSL, since so many games get rained out, but I’m sure that would be pretty expensive for a minor league stadium.

    1. Melrosepad

      Personally, I’m waiting to see if the Rockies ever look at doing that. If they went to a domed stadium, they could potentially compensate for the altitude and make the part more neutral for pitchers, thus allowing them the chance to actually have a pitching staff.

      1. deej34

        I lived in Denver for a couple years and I think the population would flip out if Coors was ever domed. They love being outdoors, open air, view of the mountains. I think even with a retractable roof or giants windows like Miami would put off a lot of fans.

        1. Nate

          I lived in CO for almost 8 years and saw the Cubs there almost every years. This is one of the best stadium experience I’ve had. Even from the cheap seats during a horrible game you can sit back and watch the sun set over the mountains. They would never dome the place. Plus, unless you changed the atmosphere (like on an airplane) it wouldn’t help and I don’t think that’s possible

      2. Scotti

        Adding a dome wouldn’t change the altitude there. Keeping the balls in a humidor (less dry) has helped, however.

        1. Northside Neuman

          Actually, a lot of the domes that were built in the 1970′s were pressurized to help keep the roofs up. That’s why when you entered or existed the stadium they had revolving doors to keep the higher air pressure inside the building.

          This would make the air heavier in Denver and the ball wouldn’t travel as far.

  7. Norm

    Minor League BABIP’s are almost always much higher than they will be at the Majors, which is why I think it’s important for anyone using the stat line to scout a player to adjust that BABIP down to a more reasonable number between .300 and .330.
    I think that’ll give a much more reasonable avg/obp/slg line to hope for out of that player.

  8. Jon

    Can we put Kris Bryant’s “slowish” start in perspective? I really hate to do this, but, please take away his 0-5 (5K) debut in Boise away (as he was probably jet-lagged) and his numbers are through the roof. His K rate is down to 18%. Strikeouts and pitch recognition were never a problem in college and they shouldn’t be now.

    1. ssckelley

      I keep thinking the same thing, you throw out that first game and Bryants stats look very good.

      1. Jon

        Really nothing left to prove in Boise. I say bring him up to KC for some low A experience the rest of the say, and give local Chicago fans a treat as well.

        1. ssckelley

          But do you sit Jeimer in favor of Bryant? I still think if you move Bryant anywhere send him to Daytona. Jeimer is still young for the Midwest League and Bryant needs to pass him anyway. There is no one playing third base for Daytona that should stop a promotion. Ben Carhart is basically an organization filler, keeping the position filled until someone else gets called up.

          1. Jon

            I’d move Jeimer to Daytona. Bryant needs to play more then once a week.

            1. willis

              Yeah that’s the trick…I’m all for he, Voges and Almora moving up for Daytona’s stretch run, but they get rained out pretty much every day, which could stunt development. But…giving them all a taste of that competition while battling it out for the playoffs could be great. Just have to keep fingers crossed about the rain outs.

              You do keep Candelario in KC for the year. Still so young and learning/getting better. Let him finish out there and probably start there next season as well.

            2. ssckelley

              Jeimer needs to play more than once per week as well. I do not think the organization is going to completely forget about him since they drafted Bryant. I do not think it would be wise to move Jeimer up to Daytona, a league known for pitching, when he has struggled at the plate in KC.

              The best option for Bryant may be keeping him at Boise and then use the exception to place him in the Instructional fall league.

    2. Scotti

      I don’t really see a slow (ish or otherwise) start. He had some rust from a long layoff so he didn’t start hot–that was to be expected. The 0-5 game was likely due to rust (no jet lag as Mesa and Boise aren’t cross country..there’s really no time difference).

    3. Kyle

      Sure, but it’s Boise. This is a guy whom people were talking about starting at AA and even had one pundit saying he could hit in the majors right now. He should darn well be crushing Boise.

      1. CubsFaninMS

        That pundit was an absolute idiot for even suggesting Bryant should be in the majors by now. That would be a terrible move, IMO. Buxton, Harper, Pujols… all special hitters but spent time in the minor leagues. I also agree that he should be crushing the ball in Boise, though.

    4. ChicagoMike702

      Bryant was in Arizona several days before he made his AZL debut. Not jet-lagged, just rusty.

      A call-up before the end of the season would be nice.

  9. Jon

    As for Lake to 3B, why not? If he holds the position down, it’s another feather in his cap toward becoming an uber utility guy like Zobrist. If it’s a disaster, who f’n cares? I mean, we all agree we need to be in top 5 draft pick tank mode, right?

    1. Noah

      As I’m presuming Valbuena is done or near done for the year with an oblique strain, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lake get a good number of starts at 3B, but to still play in the outfield a good bit too. This will particularly be true when Sweeney comes back from the DL in, presumably, a couple of weeks.

    2. Scotti

      “If it’s a disaster, who f’n cares?”

      Well, Lake and anyone who believes in him as a legitimate prospect (as I do). You’re trying to develop prospects not crush them. It’s one thing to fail in Des Moines and a completely different thing to suck in front of booing fans and media whXres at Wrigley who care more for a hot story than they do a prospect as a person.

      So you potentially move up a spot or two in the draft but also risk losing a prospect like Lake? No.

      1. mjhurdle

        so we would risk losing a prospect like Lake because of a couple brutal defensive games at 3B?

        wow, i had no idea these guys were that fragile…

        1. Jon

          Yeah, seriously.

        2. Scotti

          Baseball, more than any other sport, is about confidence. While, as I said, I’m not in the X can destroy a guy faction, sticking a guy like Lake–who is having a dynamite season and LOADED with confidence–into a situation where he is VERY likely to fail (and potentially even spectacularly) is just stupid. Ride this confidence out. The guy feels like he belongs. The guy is doing great. Don’t change that.

          1. mjhurdle

            do you have any support for 1) the theory that baseball is all about confidence, 2) that it is more about confidence than any other sport, 3) that Lake is loaded with confidence, 4) that he is dramatically more likely to fail at 3B than any other position, 5) that challenging Lake or Lake experiencing any failure would somehow destroy his ability to play baseball?
            Or are these all just a bunch of assumptions?

            im not trying to nit-pick, but it is funny to me that you can be so ardently opposed to Lake at 3B based solely on these assumptions.
            Would Lake be good at 3B? I don’t know. He has the ability, but whether that translates to good defense no one knows.
            I seriously doubt that a couple bad games there would destroy him though. I could be alone, but i think somehow he is made of stronger stuff than that.

          2. chirogerg

            “all about confidence”…..not all, that TWTW has to account for something

      2. TheDondino

        It’s not about making the guy look bad or risking him looking bad at the major league level, its about finding out what you have in a kid. We need to know what Lake can do there. Obviously you and Kyle and others have made up your minds about Lake at 3B, that’s fine. But it sounds as though the actual guys who run the Cubs haven’t made up their minds yet and would like to see what they have with him there. They play him a few times and if it’s readily apparent that he can’t hack it, then they pull the plug on the experiment before it kills his psyche or the press starts to eat him alive or a sink hole opens up at 3rd base and the ghosts of Santo and Cey rise up and devour his poor, talentless soul.

      3. willis

        He isn’t the optimal 3B candidate at this point defensively…but then again, what are the other options? Ransom is awful and getting worse. Valbuena is hurt. No one else is ready in the minors. And clearly, with the injuries and the lineups lately, winning is way secondary…give him a run. He’ll do ok, not great. But he won’t be a disaster.

        1. Kyle

          The other alternative is to let the roster-fill do its job at 3b and let Lake develop with playing time in the outfield, where his MLB future is.

    3. Kyle

      We most definitely do not all agree with that.

    4. bbmoney

      I don’t get why people want the Cubs to be in tank mode. Granted I care much less if they win or lose a game this year than a year when the compete. But I’d still rather see them win. The draft pick is nice, but it’s not like the other pro sports where its crazy important to have a pick right at the beginning of the draft…..the NBA comes to mind….and that’s why they have a lottery to avoid tanking.

      1. DarthHater

        I fully agree. We all clamor about the Cubs’ need for new revenue streams to help them be competitive, but then pay too little attention to the negative impact on revenue caused by multiple seasons of sucking.

        1. Die hard

          Jumbotron will solve that problem and so 🎃?

      2. ssckelley

        I think the Cubs can tank the season good enough without being in “tank mode”. Hard to believe this was the same team that won all those games on the road and then come home and go 1-7.

  10. Ivy Walls

    I got my friend Kaplan to ask former Cub prospect Kevin Orie about how much did the Cubs organization ‘develop’ him and his game and he said it was more about stretching and playing (being very diplomatic in his current role as a media person for the Pirates) but he said others in his class or group were very unhappy about the lack of development and coaching in the Cubs system.

    Now with this and other items beginning to show a more defined effort to develop talent and make them MLB ready this is part of what finally bringing a WS entry and then champion to this organization.

    Castro was talented, probably still is but his game is not defined or developed. It shows. I see Baez and Alcantara being the new Cub double play combo by this time next year—meaning where is Castro? He could be at 3B or he could be somewhere else even this winter.

    1. Jon

      It’s sad, because I believe it 100%.

    2. hansman1982

      I really don’t understand the need some folks have for trading away the only SS we have in the system that has had success at the major league level.

      I understand Castro isn’t a shiney new toy anymore but his bat is a borderline top-5 bat in the majors at SS.

      1. Cedlandrum

        No kidding. I mean I am a huge prospect fan, but seriously Baez and Alcantara are in AA and doing well, but people forget what Castro did there and how highly he was thought of as a prospect himself.

      2. Scotti

        AND Castro is still one of the youngest in the NL today.

        1. hansman1982

          10th youngest, I believe

          1. Die hard

            That excuse is going to wear out soon 👗like an old dress

      3. Kyle

        If Castro had never been in the majors and was putting up his numbers in the AAA the last three years, he’d be a top-10 prospect and people would be swooning over him.

        1. hansman1982

          Ya, as much as I love prospects, people often forget that out of the big-4 and 1/2 that we have, at least 3 of them won’t have teh career WAR, in 20 years, that Castro has right now.

    3. Scotti

      Kevin Orie was drafted and developed a long time ago. The Cubs were in the NL East when he was drafted.

      1. Mr. B. Patient

        And did we expect Orie to say he just sucked? Of course he’s going to blame the Cubs.

  11. Rich

    When does the Cubs choose between player a or ( b and b ) …when does this get decided ?

  12. Jon

    The future @ SS is about to get real interesting, real soon. Worst case scenario, Baez starts @ AA next year before moving up to AAA by June(ish). Assuming he’s tearing up AAA in 2014, you pretty much have to make the decision weather to move him off SS (3rd or 2nd) or clear a spot @ SS on the big league roster.

    1. Jason P

      I can think of a much worse scenario than that — keeps K’ing at over 30%, can’t get his average over .240′s, and the improved walk rate proves to be no more than a small smaple size fluke. What you wrote is closer to the most likely scenario than the worst case scenario.

      I don’t think the position question will be that big of an issue. Either Baez cuts down on the errors and forces the Cubs to move Castro off short, or he doesn’t and Baez moves somewhere else in the infield. It’s not like he’s blocked at 2nd or 3rd.

  13. David

    Why can’t the new coaching regime put Castro through their specialized training program this fall/ winter? Why didn’t it happen this past fall/ winter? Let’s not use the excuse of the coaching he received 2 years ago. Let’s get it done now and see how he reacts in April 2014.

    1. Jon

      In a perfect world(15 years ago) that would include PED’s. Castro with 35+ HR power would be pretty damn sweet.

  14. Kurt

    Good to have Brett back.

    It’s been brutal waiting for him to get back from vacation.

  15. Jon
  16. cubzfan

    Do the Cubs actually have any players who might be moved on waiver deals this month? I could imagine Gregg, maybe DeJesus, Am I forgetting anyone? Navarro would get claimed before reaching a team that would really want to deal for him, right?

    1. cms0101

      I think they’ll try to waive everyone, within reason. Rizzo, Castro, Lake, Castillo, Wood, Shark all probably won’t go through waivers. But I would guess they’ll at least try to get most of the rest of the guys through. If a guy gets claimed the first time, the Cubs can let him go, work out a trade with the team that claimed him, or pull him back. Guys like Villanueva, and maybe even Jackson, might get through and be big-time trade assets. I’m not advocating trading either of those guys, but they could be coveted pieces in August. A team trying to claim Navarro might be doing so to block another team, but who doesn’t need a switch hitting catcher with power? It would still be worth putting him through waivers once and seeing if anything can be done. I don’t expect that he’ll sign with the Cubs again next season, as teams will covet his bat in a platoon next season, if not in a full time starting role. Castillo is far superior to him defensively, so I would still think Castillo will be the starter next season too. I’d try to get him through waivers and see what happens. He’s wasted on this team.

  17. DarthHater

    MLBTradeRumors is reporting 12 players getting 50-game suspensions. By my count, 8 of the 12 are from the Dominican Republic, 3 from Venezuela, and 1 from Nicaragua. Anybody have any insight into the relative prevalence of PED use in Latin America?

    1. Jono

      I do, but I’m not telling ;)

      1. DarthHater

        Very suspicious. You must be hiding something. :-P

    2. Timothy Scarbrough

      I don’t know this, but I imagine it is like sports in the low poverty levels of the US here. If sports are the only way to get yourself and your family out of poverty, then you do whatever you can to succeed at sports.

    3. Patrick W.

      I think it has more to do with the location of the clinic. Florida has these anti-aging clinics all over the place down there, and Latin American and Caribbean players spend a lot of time in Florida.

      1. DarthHater

        Yea, I think that may be right.

  18. Nye

    Rampant use in the D.R. and the guys within our academy try very hard to monitor—but you can only imagine. The most un-scrupulous agents try to go around our coaches. That is why when Theo and Oneri Fleita parted company–we predicted some bad. When we see a kid get released from the org. and be given that final ticket back home from Phoenix to D.R. it is sad. A very different kind of future.

  19. TheRiot2

    If Lake is a utility player I would be okay with DeRosa type numbers at the big league level.I can’t see him in the outfield or infield as a regular either. He has one asset that Mark never had,SPEEEED.

  20. Jason Powers

    I can’t see much of problem in putting Lake on the 3rd base for a few games. One can never know if he’ll be a guy that translates all his tools into better performance at the bigs. He never played OF much, and then 6 games in RF in Iowa, yet, here he is, playing LF and CF in the majors….Little Mike Squires, a lefty, got 4 starts as 3B in the majors. He NEVER once had done this in the minors.

    Seems the FO and Manager have decided the-playing-where-today argument for all the argumentative types on this board. As this season RECORD wise means nothing, experimentation is not a problem to worry about.

    You can solve confidence issues by saying simply, “we know you are not a natural 3B [or whatever position we put you in], so this meant to give you a taste, see what works. If not, we won’t just play you there [long term] unless an emergency or injury causes the need. But for now, it’s a way to get playing time and at bats we think. Your glove is important, but not what we are evaluating 1st and foremost in this situation.”

    Talk to people like they are not stupid, they tend to get it. Consistent messaging – whatever that message is.

    Just for giggles, I remembered that Mike Schmidt played SS for the Phillies in the mid-1970s.

    Gary Carter played RF in 1975 the whole season.

    Obviously, I am not comparing Lake to their careers. I am making the point, it does not hurt to have the flexible mindset to play around the field. As Lake and Watkins likely are not one position guys, were in the minors for over 2400PAs, they got the call first to see what their long-term value is to the Cubs. Role players, with 3-4 positions to keep them in the bigs.

    You almost have to have 2-3 of these type of guys with bullpens needing 7-8 arms, and keeping only 12 position guys on a roster. (It be nice if Lake knew how to catch…BUT he doesn’t.)

    1. Scotti

      Why can’t Lake catch? We have never seen that he can’t and this is, afterall, a wasted season.

      Right now with Lake you have a guy who is handling the OF and getting slack for any miscues he makes. Any article–comment even–by the media about how Lake can’t handle the OF would be stupid and the media knows that. Put him at SS or 3B and the media start pointing out his foibles and that becomes the headline. I’d prefer to let him not worry about that and, instead, concern himself with laying off breaking pitches out of the zone, hitting the ball the other way (especially breaking pitches IN the zone), having quality AB, etc.

      The media WILL turn on Lake. They always do. No reason to add fuel to the fire.

  21. Tim

    Scotti: Let me speak for many of us who have played the infield. Third base is so unlike shortstop that it takes a gutsy athlete to go back and forth. The ball arrives so differently with speed, spin, and etc. Neurologically the reactions are not very close. Been there-done that.

    1. Scotti

      Tim, if you’ve been following, I’ve been talking about the majority, not all, of the plays. I’ve specifically referenced that a couple of times. And yes, neurologically, fielding a typical ground ball on the infield is the same at any of the four defensive infield positions. The vast majority of the same actions are required from seeing the ball, tracking the ball, making decisions about how to position yourself to field it and, finally, coming up with the ball. And, except for around second, throwing is mostly the same on the left side of the diamond (very different on the right side). There are minute adjustments to be made but those can resolve themselves in one season or less.

      Sandberg, for instance, played MLB 3B without having played more than a handful of games there in the minors. For the most part, fielding grounders is fielding grounders. Moving off short, he had very few things to work on compared to moving to the OF (tracking FB is a completely different skill set) or, say, catching (a whole different world of skill sets). Well, Sandberg is a special HOF guy, right? Yes, he is, but the game is replete with SS who move over to 3B without needing 93 games in the minors to learn 3B.

      This isn’t “my” theory. This is generally believed in both the professional and collegiate game today (and the reason why you hear FO after FO after FO say that you leave a guy at SS for as long as you can–the guy is getting nearly double the reps at short).

      I get that the ball is hit harder at 3rd. I’ve played 3B. I like my teeth and, for that reason, I don’t like playing 3B. I did occasionally have to play the position (I’d guess 99% of catchers have played some third). The speed of a sharply batted ball has no bearing re. Lake given that no one questions Lake’s skill set for third. His quick-twitch muscle is there. His arm strength is there. His range is there. It’s his ability to be consistent. After thousands of ground balls in games, and tens of thousands in practice, he has never shown consistency in fielding ground balls.

      Regardless, even if hard hit balls were the issue for Lake, that would just reinforce that he has zero chance at 3B over SS where he has bombed. I am NOT saying, nor have I said, that anyone who can play SS can play 3B (or vice versa). A given tool set matters! What I AM saying is that the fundamental mechanics (and underlying neural framework) are enhanced by repetition whether at SS or 3B. Fielding a grounder is fielding a grounder (but, again, since SS has nearly double the chances you prefer keeping a guy there).

      Again, not Scotti’s obscure theory. This is what the vast majority of the people in the game believe (even if many don’t pause long enough to bring it down to the neural pathway level). Do teams send guys from MLB down to AAA, AA or even A-Ball to learn a new position? No. They let him work it out in Spring Training maybe after some Winter Ball. But, if it’s SS to 3B (or SS to 2B) then Spring Training is likely to suffice. No 93 or 500 games needed even if he’s never played there.

      1. Tim

        Scott: I have up close and personal watched Junior take hundreds of ground balls and I think he could pleasantly surprise many at 3rd or short. But doing so darn well in outfield and hitting well, he will probably stay there until last week or so of season. I am educated but hats off to your communication abilities and feeling a bit overwhelmed with my lonely : just hunch arguments :

        1. Scotti

          Tim, as I type the background noise here (ducks quacking) reminds me of the adage “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” At some point Junior Lake’s infield defense is a duck. I’d bet (big time) that every single scout who’s ever seen Lake play, like you, would say that he has the tool set to play third. NO ONE doubts his tool set. What IS suspect is his performance in the field. His tool set isn’t translating into consistent performance.

  22. William

    We claimed Neal Thomas off of waivers. No surprise thete.

  23. William

    I have his last name first. Lmao!

  24. Bret Epic

    I predicted the Neal Thomas pick up, Borbon being dropped AND Logan Watkins being called up all on the same day. I’m not trying to brag here, but WOW.

    1. MichiganGoat


      1. Bret Epic

        Throwback to the days when Adam Sandler was funny. I appreciate it. No lottery numbers off the top of my head, but maybe I should play.

    2. Rebuilding

      You got the lottery numbers tonight?

  25. Rebuilding

    Baez with a double and a walk tonight. After a dreadful start his OPS is up to .915 and is comfortably over 1.000 over the last few weeks. I dont think he qualifies quite yet, but he will soon and lead the Southern League in OPS. I was convinced that we wouldn’t see him until next September for a cup of coffee. Now I’m starting to think we might see him after the Super 2 deadline next year.

    1. Kyle

      He would lead the Southern League in OPS if he had enough PAs to be qualified.

      I’m definitely starting to entertain the idea that some meaningful contribution from Baez might need to be factored in to the projections for 2014.

    2. Mr. B. Patient

      That’s best case scenario. Not impossible, but he needs to find the right approach at the plate and make it habit. That may take until Sept.

    3. jon

      It’s going to force an interesting decision soon, do they
      Get Baez ready to play 3rd or 2nd?
      Move Castro off short, or trade him to clear a spot?

      1. Rebuilding

        His range at SS is excellent. His range factor at AA is 5.24 and was 5.06 at A+. Unfortunately, he’s got 38 errors. His bat is going to be ready before his glove it seems so I would imagine he’ll be moved – and it might have to start next spring training

  26. #1lahairfan

    Barret Loux to the DL with a right shoulder strain.

  27. Brad

    The Cubs picked up a minor league all-star off the waiver wire from the Yankees, Thomas Neal. They moved Rafeal Dolis to the 60-day DL to open up a 40 man roster spot. Brett will fill in the other details tomorrow

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      Really bad news for Dave Sappelt. Another great find by this front office, Neal is a skilled player just coming into his best years.

      1. Dustin S

        It was a nice pickup for sure. I root for the underdogs and really pull for Sappelt. But reality is that unless you’re a Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs hitting .320 kind of player, it’s a pretty tough major league life to try to make it as an OF without above-average speed or power. In a full-time gig he might hit 10 HR and have 20 SB, hitting ~.250-.260. Decent stats for a strong defensive middle infielder, but they need a lot more from an OF spot. Hopefully he cranks up the average and/or speed and makes it back.

  28. Kevin

    I hope this is our last year playing for better draft position. I’m excited about our farm system and its time to bring the kids up and play some competitive baseball. Castro and Rizzo need some plate discipline that should be addressed in the off season.

  29. Die hard

    Don’t see Barney clearing waivers but may be worth a try to spike interest and lead to a trade?

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