Cubs Add Thomas Neal, A Look at Junior Lake’s History, and Other Vacation Bullets

alfonso soriano hittingThe Cubs head to Philadelphia for a three-game set this week, as my vacation continues. I say that not to brag about vacationing, but as a reminder to those who’ve missed it: I’m on vacation this week, and will be doing just one catch-all post like this one per day (absent earth-shattering news popping up).

  • Yesterday, the Cubs picked up outfielder Thomas Neal off of waivers from the Yankees. The 25-year-old was a top prospect with the Giants earlier in his career before injuries (and a lack of pop or speed) held him back after coming to the Indians. In the minors, Neal has been a guy who doesn’t strike out much, gets on base (.377 OBP) and hits well (.301 BA). But he doesn’t offer speed or much power, and it sounds like Yankees folks weren’t too bummed about losing him, because they say he wasn’t much defensively, either. Still, as the right-handed half of an outfield platoon – he’s played primarily in the corners, but played a handful of games in center field in 2012 – Neal could be productive (though he hasn’t yet shown it in the bigs in limited opportunities).
  • Although Neal’s expected to come to the big club today, the real difficulty is going to be in sticking on the Cubs’ 40-man roster all offseason. He’s a fringy type, no matter how much he shows in the next couple months, and it’s hard to imagine the Cubs devoting a spot to him when they’ve already got to make decisions on outfielders like Ryan Sweeney, Brian Bogusevic and Cole Gillespie. As with some of those guys, if the Cubs like Neal, they may simply try to sell him on the idea of returning next year on a minor league deal.
  • Side note on Neal: he was sent down by the Yankees to make room for Alfonso Soriano.
  • To make room on the 40-man for Neal, the Cubs transferred Rafael Dolis to the 60-day DL. He hasn’t pitched since early June with a forearm strain.
  • A great background piece from Carrie Muskat on the Cubs signing Junior Lake and Starlin Castro. The former was the favored son for the first couple of years, and it’s fascinating to read about how their signings/development played out.
  • Ryne Sandberg on leaving the Cubs’ organization, joining the Phillies, selling his place in Chicago, and on his time with the Cubs. Sandberg says he’s not bitter about how things played out, but you do get the sense that he was very disappointed to have been passed over in favor of Mike Quade for the managerial job in 2011. To my mind, all the Cubs did was spare Sandberg the indignity of managing a train wreck or two, and having the city’s meatballs turn on him, before he was ultimately fired for things out of his control.
  • Alfonso Soriano, who is back in Chicago as the Yankees (and Alex Rodriguez, in case you hadn’t heard) play the White Sox. Soriano spoke with ESPN Chicago and CSN about his time in Chicago and PED stuff, and noted that he might be willing to return as a coach with the Cubs after his playing days are over. Soriano would be a pretty great coach/ambassador for the Cubs.

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

333 responses to “Cubs Add Thomas Neal, A Look at Junior Lake’s History, and Other Vacation Bullets”

  1. ramy16

    Borbon cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Iowa..that’s great maybe he can work on some things down there

    1. ssckelley

      Jeez, nobody wanted him? :(

      Well hopefully they will release McDonald to make room for him.

      1. wvcubsfan

        Do they have to release anyone?

        1. nkniacc13

          no they don’t have to release anyone

        2. ssckelley

          I don’t know how many they have now but they cannot have more than 24 on their active roster.

          1. MichiganGoat
            1. ssckelley

              Iowa roster goat, not the MLB one. Borbon cleared waivers so he is assigned to Iowa.

              1. MichiganGoat

                Gotcha ya thought that was confusing. Here is the active Iowa roster


                It looks larger than 25

                1. ssckelley

                  That is the MLB one again.

                  I think Iowa can have 38 on the roster but only 24 can be active. It will be tough for them to release McDonald anyway, he has been hot the past couple of games and just hit his 4th homer today.

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Oops here it is by my count that’s 30?


                    But I thought AAA was 24 active… Maybe some of those are on the DL

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      Yes many of those are on the DL do if this is the 38-man roster there is plenty of room

                    2. ssckelley

                      I count 24 on the active roster, but I am sure Lockhart and Brockmeyer are temporary additions since Boise is on an All Star break. They probably get sent back down after todays game in Tacoma.

                    3. Patrick W.

                      Cael Brockmeyer looked 8 feet tall today and expectedly not good at the plate.

          2. wvcubsfan

            I count 25 not on the DL

            1. ssckelley

              Your right, I must be getting tired as I counted 24 the first time.

  2. Vulcan

    Anyone have any ideas who the Cubs might pursue in the offseason?

    1. MichiganGoat

      Here is the 2014 Free Agent list

      Nothing overly exciting but there are a handful of players that could be signed on a short contract that can make an impact next year.

      Oh and ladies Mark DeRosa is available :)

      1. Vulcan


      2. Whiteflag

        He is heavenly :)

  3. gocatsgo2003

    Hoyer on Olt per ESPN: “He’s struggled this year,” Hoyer said. “He had the concussion in winter ball and has never really gotten himself going this year which is frankly why he was available in a four-player trade. If he gets it going here in the last month I think he’s a guy you could see. If it ends up where he struggles the whole time I don’t think we would help that by bringing him up to the big leagues. The next month will really determine a lot for Mike as far as whether he gets to the big leagues this year.”

  4. Cheese Chad

    It’s been talked about that they may pursue David Price. As far as free agents there isn’t a whole lot out there as far as a big signing. There are some intriguing names. Phil Hughes, Ellsbury, Choo, Unless it’s a trade I think they stick with either guys who fit their timeline for being competitive starting in 2015 or guys like Schierholtz and DeJesus who will be serviceable but nothing longer than 1-2 year contracts.

    1. Mr. B. Patient

      Chad, the only people talking about going after Price are on Cubs blog threads. With so many needs on the Major League team, the Cubs will not empty the farm for one guy, whether it’s a true Ace (Price) or a potential HR champ (Stanton). These guys would cost 2 of the Top 4, and two others from the Top 10.

      1. RizzoCastro

        They may very well not go after them, but a lot of reporters have talked about them going after Price. Not just Cub fans or Cub blogs. It will be a hot topic this offseason.

        1. nkniacc13

          part of the reason is that the rays likely cant afford him and the cubs have the farm and the financial to make it happen if they choose.

          1. Mr. B. Patient

            Trading our entire farm for Price is like putting lipstick on a pig. will set us back 5 mores years. IMO.

            1. wvcubsfan

              Why would you trade an entire farm and keep a pig? Where would the pig with lipstick stay?

              1. Mr. B. Patient

                The answer to that may not be appropriate on a family friendly website. :-)

                1. wvcubsfan

                  Hey, I’m not going to judge anyone for what they might or might not do behind the closed doors of their house, or gate of their farm. :)

            2. On The Farm

              Maybe you trade Shark to re-coup some of the losses it will take to get Price, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but as you have already said it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to gut the system to fill one of many needs. Just spit ballin’

              1. wvcubsfan

                Seriously, I don’t think that the price to trade for Price would empty, destroy, damage the farm system. This is the entire reason that system depth is so important.

                I’m not saying he would be cheap, but we could afford to trade 1 of the top 5, 1 top 10, and 2 top 25 prospects and not adversely affect the farm over the long haul IMO.

                1. On The Farm

                  I think giving up Baez, one of our top arms (Edwards or Johnson), plus two more (Hendricks? Vogelbach?) Seems pretty steep right now.

              2. Mr. B. Patient

                I am one of those who believe the Cubs wont be competitive until the 2016 or 2017 seasons. By then both Shark and Price will be on the downside of their careers. I’d trade Shark next trade deadline, and wait until our offense gets good to start trading for impact starters.

                1. wvcubsfan

                  See I’m on the 14 with the right moves or 15 train.

                  1. Mr. B. Patient

                    WV, I hope you are right, and I am wrong. I’d love for games to be relevant next year. I just see next year being a lot like this year, with the possible promotions of a few of our top level prospects. 2015 could have a few more top level prospects promoted, but that would be a very young team.
                    That team will be all about learning. Then 2016, you get a few breakout years, and you’re fighting for a division title.

                  2. Mr. B. Patient

                    Oh, one more thing. It may take until 2016/2017 for the Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds to fade.

                    1. Cubman23

                      Meh. We’ll see about those teams – I’d be very surprised if all three of them were still competitive by then…even by next year.
                      - The Pirates are still really unproven and the second half has been their nemesis for a couple of years now. Really rooting for them, but if I were a betting man my money would be on their failure rather than their success.
                      - The Cards are 9-10 since the ASB (much to my delight), which I think is an indicator that they’ve had some tremendous luck, especially offensively, so far this season. But yeah, they’re probably gonna be good for a while.
                      - The Reds are losing their 2nd most productive hitter in Choo to FA. They’re relying very heavily on their pitching, which seems strange. Leake is having a Travis Wood type of year and will most likely regress significantly and Arroyo is going to be 37 – how long can he go?

                      Then again I’m looking for faults because I want the Cubs to win of course!

            3. willis

              I don’t agree with that. I think the system is plenty deep to take a run at Price and keep in good shape. Plenty of talent…and why not use it to bring in a proven talent like Price? I wouldn’t “want” to get rid of any of the top guys the Cubs, but if Price is made available, you kick those tires.

              1. wvcubsfan

                Hey, that’s what I said in not the same words. You copy-whatever that is in your avatar

                1. DarthHater


                2. willis

                  Yeah I guess I was writing while yours was posting and I didn’t see it. Completely agree, obviously. Hell I think you could build a deal around Vogelbomb, Johnson, Cabrera and maybe Olt, add in couple fillers and there you go. Odds are they would want Baez and Vogelbomb, but I think there’s a way to do it without ruining things.

                  And for the record, that is Wicket. He’s an Ewok from Planet Endor.

                  1. On The Farm

                    I just don’t think after getting the haul they got for Shields they would be as happy as we would be to trade Olt, Vogelbach, Johnson, and Cabrera for Price. Maybe I am crazy, but it seems like Olt is the centerpiece and I think that centerpiece is way too weak.

                  2. Jason P

                    Not from the planet Endor, from the forest moon of Endor, right?

                    1. MichiganGoat


      2. Cheese Chad

        Sorry I thought Olney had talked about it at some point.

  5. Ballgame

    Yesterday, before Girardi started his press conference prior to A-Rod you could hear a Media Relations employee in the background going over the teams transactions for the day. The camera was on Girardi when he was informed the Cubs picked up Neal. His body language/movement implied he wasn’t happy at all about losing him. That’s a reaction that shows me that he was pissed they lost him. Not sure if anyone else caught that…

    1. cubzforlife

      Neal owes Joe money. That’s the reason for the reaction.

  6. ssckelley

    In looking at the Iowa Cubs box score (they lead 6-2 in the 5th) it appears they added recently drafted Cael Brockmeyer to the team. He was playing in Boise and they are on an All Star break so since they are playing out in Tacoma this might have been a move to give him more playing time at a higher level. He is 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout so far.

    1. ssckelley

      Mike Olt just hit his 1st home run as a Iowa Cub.

      1. DarthHater

        He also has two BBS!

        1. wvcubsfan

          but does he have a good DDS?

        2. MichiganGoat

          Did you just plural BB into BBs?

          1. wvcubsfan

            BBs are always plural aren’t they? Wouldn’t be much fun in just having one BB. They are hard to find once you shoot them.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Yes it’s both singular and plural. 1-base on balls, 2-base on balls so 1 BB or 2 BB.

              1. wvcubsfan

                No I meant the little round copper things (used to be copper) that you shoot out of the red rider gun to put your eye out.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Ah do you shoot 1-ball bearing or 2-ball bearings? I’d say you’d still just use BB for both singular and plural. Acronyms are rarely made plural by adding a S.

                  1. DarthHater

                    Actually, the plural of “base on balls” is “bases on balls,” so the plural of BB presumably should be BsB.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      But you never get bases on a base on balls you just get one base on 4 balls, so then you BBS would be more valid but you don’t acronym the final S.

                  2. wvcubsfan

                    I’ve had enough of your logic for one thread you talking goat.

                    1. DarthHater

                      You can lead a goat to logic, but you can’t make him think. ;-)

                  3. DarthHater

                    Here are 2400 BBs for you tochoke on, you smart-aleck goat!


                    1. MichiganGoat

                      I don’t trust anything called Daisy

              2. DarthHater

                I’ll give you the acronym point, but in spoken English, the plural is “bases on balls.” Baseball-Reference, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, and all agree. So, nyaaaaah! :-P

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Well that’s just stupid because you don’t get bases on 4 balls you get 1 base. But I guess if you write it out that is correct. Ah the English language is so ridiculous sometimes. So I guess we can call it BsBs from now on. Cause it’s just so Bullsh*t. ;)

                  1. turn two

                    I don’t understand the argument. If you get multiple bases on balls, then why wouldn’t it be called bases on balls. In other words if your talking about the number of times i have walked, you’re talking about my “bases”given on balls, thus the plural. Same as if you say a pitcher gave up 4 bases on balls in a single game.

                    1. DarthHater

                      “I don’t understand the argument”

                      This is a good thing. ;-)

                    2. MichiganGoat

                      I think you’re missing the fun in all this, I honestly don’t give a shat about this but it’s fun to get into a discussion about the minutiae of the English language and usage especially btwn a Sith Lord and a Goat.

                  2. DarthHater

                    Chill, you ornery critter! I said I’d give you the acronym point.

                    Spoken: Two bases on balls.

                    Abbreviated: 2 BB.

                    Happy? ;-)

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      Wait did a Sith Lord just try to make a goat happy?

                      BRETT, We are now in Bizarro BN things are really going off the rails and the week has just started.

                  3. Cheese Chad

                    Wait, what if there is one or more players on base. Doesn’t the team get bases on balls? Mind explosion!

              3. Die hard

                🎎 is singular and 🚖 plural ?

        3. DarthHater

          Alright, he has two WALKS, you miserable, no-life cretins! :-P

          1. MichiganGoat


            1. On The Farm


            2. DarthHater

              One of these days, the CIA is going to have to be held accountable for engineering talking goats…

              1. MichiganGoat

                We’ve been around longer than the CIA

                1. DarthHater


          2. ssckelley

            way to many commas

            1. DarthHater

              Too few o’s in “too,” smartass. :-P

            2. DarthHater

              And it’s the correct number of commas.

            3. wvcubsfan

              not enough beer though, need more beer

              1. MichiganGoat

                So you want more beers?

                1. wvcubsfan

                  Why yes, and I’m about to leave work to rectify that problem.

      2. Mr. B. Patient

        Good for him. Hope this takes some pressure off.

      3. On The Farm

        We need another Steve Holt (Mike Olt) Meme

    2. On The Farm

      Wrigley call up time, send murphy back

    3. Cedlandrum

      Catcher got hurt last night so they had Brockmeyer come over since they are near each other. Can’t imagine it will be for more then a couple of games.

      1. ssckelley

        Then maybe he will stick around longer than I thought. The IACubs have an off day tomorrow and then are home on Thursday so I figured Brockmeyer would head back after todays game.

        BTW, he did get a hit with a walk today (1-3) with 2 strikeouts. Not a bad day going from rookie league to AAA.

    4. Dustin S

      Noticed that too about Brockmeyer. He finished 1 for 3 with a walk. 6’5″ and 235, his Iowa stop is probably just a fill-in but would be nice if he could move up fast.

  7. Lou Brock

    2010 draft pick in ninth round from Oregon State relief pitcher Kevin Rhoderick released from Cub organization and Tenn. Smokies.

    1. ssckelley

      He has been a disappointment the past couple of seasons. He looked really good right after he got drafted but then completely lost control.

  8. wvcubsfan

    I bet your one of those mean people that make me listen to sportscasters say “that’s 4 RBI for the day”.. I want my ribees back!

    1. wvcubsfan

      I know I hit reply to the goat’s post, don’t know what went wrong there.

  9. Cheese Chad

    Cubs have 4 guys over 30 years old on their active 25-man. That’s a legit rebuild.

  10. DarthHater

    Almora to 7-day DL. Is it just me? Or is he starting to seem injury-prone?

    1. willis

      It’s not just you. I think that’s his third (?) injury that has cost him time so far this year.

    2. Danny Ballgame

      I think that he will be fine in the long run. Granted, that is just going off of the praise that he gets for his work ethic. He didn’t miss any time last year, did he?

  11. William

    How did Thomas Neal’s power just vanish? I noticed he hit 22 homeruns before.

    1. DarthHater

      It could have a connection with his advancing beyond class A ball. He also has had injuries which might have affected his power.

    2. Danny Ballgame

      I was wondering the same thing. He is too big of a guy not to be able to hit for some power

    3. DarthHater

      I plugged Neal’s 2009 Cal League numbers and his 2013 International League numbers into the online major league equivalency calculator and adjusted them both to translate to playing for the major league Cubs.

      His 2009 Cal League stat line of .337/.431/.579 becomes .214/.270/.338

      His 2013 International League stat line of .325/.391/.411 becomes .285/.342/.357

      Based on this, I would say that his power has not vanished at all.

      the calculator is located at :

      1. Die hard

        You go to the head of the class🎓

      2. hansman1982

        His OPS was still good for the 4th highest that year and bested Buster Posey. Posey was a year older and Neal was a touch young for the league.

  12. Magicman

    Mike Olt finally had a good game, a HR and 3 walks. Oh and even though a non prospect Edgar Gonzalez had 5 hits and 3 HR

  13. Die hard

    Theo is risking getting rep as dumpster diver.. Next year will have to back up the 🚚

  14. Justin

    Has Castro ever taken a 3-2 walk? I don’t know just asking… It seems as if he would swing at a pitch coming from a dude warming up in the bullpen during a full count.

    1. Jason P

      Don’t know if that was a rhetorical question, but he has taken 44 for his career. That’s out of 129, so it’s actually more than a third.

  15. cubmig

    Donnie Murphy cranks one out for a 3 run homer……….I love those dividends.

  16. Lou Brock

    .795 OPS at Iowa this year. He’s got some pop in his bat. By the way Baez is really killing it versus lefties.

  17. RYAN

    Wow and just like that the lead is almost gone. Typical hopeless cubs

  18. Josh

    Baez 4-4 with 3 RBIs tonight…..AVG up to .277…….boy can rake

    1. Patrick

      The Cubs are going to have a tough decision to make most likely very soon. Baez is figuring out AA and Olt is struggling at triple A. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities Baez could jump over Olt for that third base spot as soon as next year which could really make for some interesting scenarios.

  19. another JP

    Baez will definitely be starting next season at Iowa, and if he really kills it in ST this FO could conceivably have him start in Chicago. Looking like a Rizzo-type scenario for a June promotion if JB stays on his current path. What I really like is he’s abusing both good & bad pitchers right now.

    1. Kyle

      I have to think they’ll play service-time games with him even in the absolute best-case scenario.

      Like if he just continues to abuse AA the rest of the year, and the front office really believes in him, then they’ll keep a job open with a veteran stopgap for the first month or two.

      1. Mr. B. Patient

        Very possible/probable. But here is the tough question, what position does he play in AAA until he is called up? 3rd over Olt? SS with Castro on the big club? I’m guessing if at all possible, Olt starts the year as the Cubs 3rd baseman.

        1. Kyle

          Whatever position the Cubs think is best for his development. He’s the kind of prospect where you do what’s best for him first and let the ordinary folk get their assignments after.

          1. Mr. B. Patient

            What’s best for his development would be his natural position os SS. that isn’t blocked at AAA, but if you fully expect him to be ready to hit in MLB by mid-season, you have to give him time at another position (so you don’t get another J.Lake situation). I’m with you on the best prospects take priority on positions, but what this is about is where would Baez fit with this ML team.

            1. hansman1982

              Another Junior Lake situation? You mean the one where he played a ton of SS and 3B and then has performed pretty well in the OF despite rarely playing there in the minors?

              1. Mr. B. Patient

                kudos to Mr. Lake, but if you were running a team, would you want your prospects learning a new position at the major league level?

                1. hansman1982

                  Manny Machado played all of 2 games at 3B and is now a strong candidate for GG at 3B. I’m sure I could find tons of examples of MiLB SS moving to 3B/2B/OF once they came up to the majors with very little experience there.

                  Moving off SS is going down the ladder of difficulty.

                  Hell, I am shocked that they have left Lake in the OF after virtually no time there in the minors but Baez is a good enough defender that a shift to third (some would argue it’s 3rd on the list of difficulty), even on the fly while coming up to the bigs, wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

                  1. Mr. B. Patient

                    In emergency situations, yes, it happens. I just don’t think the preference would be to have anyone learn a new position at the MLB level. Will it ruin him? No. Just not best case scenario.

                    Anyway, why are you arguing this? You’re sure he’s being traded this off season.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      It’s more common than you think start looking through players and their MiLB careers compared to where they eventually settle as a MLB player.

                    2. hansman1982

                      His adjustments have surprised me and I think he is a stronger candidate to stay on the Cubs than I had previously thought.

                      His K rate is scary but my tune has changed slightly.

                  2. MichiganGoat

                    Sandberg played 21games at 2B in his 456 game minor league career. The majority of his games were at SS and he came to the majors as a 3B but only played 4 games at 3B in the minors.

                    Another player who learned positions at the MLB level was Craig (Should be in the HOF) Biggio – he learned 2B and had only played C and OF in the minors.

        2. arta

          he’ll play SS at AAA. in the meantime Castro will make their decision by how he plays.

      2. another JP

        And now Baez ranges behind 2nd to throw out Cox of J’ville. No-hitter still intact for Jokisch against a team that had an 11-game winning streak entering tonight’s game. Javy even outperforming Sano in AA.

        1. another JP

          Baez & Villanueva with no-hit saving catches…. unbelievable

  20. Mr. B. Patient

    Baez’s day is good, but lets give a little love to Jokish. No hitter into the 8th.

    1. ssckelley

      No no into the 9th now.

  21. someday...2015?

    Villanueva and Baez with two amazing catches in the bottom of the 9th. 1 out to go for the no-no.

    1. someday...2015?

      And he does it! Congrats to Eric Jokish on an amazing game!

      1. someday...2015?


      2. Jp3

        Sure I missed this but someone congratulate Edgar Martinez of the Iowa club, I mean Gonzalez… That’s very weird for him out of the blue to hit 3 HRs today seeing he now has 5 on the year. Who was throwing to him, Marmol?

        1. willis

          Pretty good day for Iowa and TN. Hell even Olt had a good game. What a weird day.

          1. Jp3

            Yeah so Olt walked 3 times??? And hit a homer??? Weird indeed

  22. arta

    where r u guy catching this game?

    1. Mr. B. Patient

      MiLB TV.

  23. another JP

    Yes– Jokisch no-no! Can’t wait for the replay of the Baez diving catch.

    1. Rudy

      That play/catch by Baez was ridiculous!!!

  24. willis

    No hitter for Jokisch. Holy crap that’s awesome for him. Great stuff.

  25. ssckelley

    Wow, 2nd no hitter thrown in the Cubs minor leagues this year, First Loosen and now Jokisch.

  26. rick gubitz

    Why does Rondon have a spot on this Cub team with giving up a run every appearance? There has to be some kid in the minors/waivers better than him,..Rule 5 guy or not.

    1. ssckelley

      They kept him this long they might as well keep him at this point. Not sure how the Cubs can justify using a 40 man roster spot on him in the offseason though.

  27. willis

    Jokisch also rocked a 2-4 with an RBI on top of his no-no. That’s an insane game for a starting pitcher. What a performance.

  28. someday...2015?

    Video of the last out from the Suns Instagram.

  29. Jon

    So is Jockitch a legit prospect ?

    1. ssckelley

      I thought he was before the no hitter, at times he has looked good this year. But I think his ceiling is a back end starter, he might end up being a serviceable left handed arm out of the pen.

  30. Lou Brock

    Cannot see DeJesus playing CF next year on this team. He is a corner OF guy and cannot hit lefties. If Lake cannot handle 3B at the ML level lets just teach him CF over the winter, resign Sweeney and let DeJesus walk or sign him up as a 4th outfielder. Play Schierholtz in RF with Gillespie or Neal in a platoon.

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