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junior lake cubsMichigan/Notre Dame is tonight, but it is not a traditional rivalry, so don’t get excited. I kid, of course, about Brian Kelly’s comments, because I can see what he was saying.

  • Junior Lake is getting a lot of love for his grand-slam-followed-by-bunt-single performance yesterday, which I also found to be swell (though maybe not as unbelievable as others – both are parts of his game). Overall, Lake has a very nice .346 wOBA over 197 plate appearances with the big club (.299/.342/.446), making for a solid debut. Combine that with average defense in center field (or better – we’ll see) from a cost-controlled player, and you’ve got the makings of a guy you’re legitimately very excited about. The only problem? Yup, it’s the same as it’s been: a .382 BABIP suggests Lake is in line for some serious regression, and the 4.6% BB rate/24.4% K rate tandem don’t inspire confidence. At .270/.310/.400, you’re going to need to play above-average defense in center field to provide meaningful value to your team (as we’ve discussed here and here).
  • Scott Baker has earned a chance to start, says Dale Sveum, per CSN. I have no problem with the Cubs giving Baker a look this month, but when the manager is already saying things like, “[Baker will] be the first one to say his stuff doesn’t have the life …”, I can’t help but wonder what we’re really going to learn from a start or two. If he has no velocity, but gets outs, does that mean he’s evolved into a crafty junkballer? If he looks almost normal, but gets blasted or has no control, are we sure it’s the end? I suppose I’m just saying: take the start(s) for what it’s/they’re worth. The decision on bringing Baker back in 2014 is going to have more to do with projecting his health/stuff/velocity and his contract demands than it will have to do with what results he gets this month. Baker starts tomorrow for the first time since 2011.
  • Tom Ricketts was at the Smokies’ first playoff game the other day, and hopped on the call for a half inning, talking about a wide range of topics – non-Chicago facilities, Wrigley renovation stuff, minor league stuff. Good listen. For the record, Ricketts reiterated that the real meat of the renovation work at Wrigley Field probably won’t begin until after next season (though he held open the possibility that the work could be done in three offseasons after that, which would still be the same five total offseason time line … that would be great).
  • The 2014 Cubs Convention dates are already out: January 17, 18, and 19. Start making your plans, especially if you’ve never been. Even when the Cubs are down, the Convention proves to be a good time.
  • Recent DFA’ers Michael Bowden and Cole Gillespie have cleared waivers and were outrighted to AAA Iowa. Each is likely to become a minor league free agent after the season, and could head elsewhere on minor league deal/non-roster invites next year.
  • No High-A Daytona Cubs game yesterday, due to a weather postponement (imagine that). They’ll try for the second game of the Championship Series again today.
  • As for the Tennessee Smokies, a 7-1 loss has the Cubs’ AA affiliate down 2-0 in their divisional playoff series. It’s a best of five set, so it’s now or never for the Smokies, who send Eric Jokisch to the mound tonight to keep the series going.
  • On the bright side, the Boise Hawks took the first game in the Northwest League Championship 5-0 over Vancouver (also best of five). Dillon Maples did the heavy lifting for the Hawks, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings, striking out 7, while allowing 6 hits and 2 walks. Game Two is tomorrow afternoon.
  • Die hard

    Waiting until IRS dispute settled perhaps? Just saying

  • mdavis

    interesting Dale the other day saying he’s coming out of the bullpen, and suddenly its “oh he’s earned the start”…makes me wonder if theo/jed called Dale and made the call themselves. irrelevant either way, no harm in evaluating the guy, see whats what.

  • Demarrer

    I cannot stand Dale when it comes to his actions with the media. The guy just has no clue what he is doing when he is behind the microphone. He throws his players, mostly his young growing ones, under the bus all the time. He says one thing and then changes his mind the next day.

    • Kevin F.

      Reminds me of Leo Durocher! Without the emotion anyway.

    • CubsFanSaxMan

      Sveum is the “new breed” of manager. That being, they may manage “the games” but the front office dictates most, if not all of the other decisions, who plays, etc. Svuem may have decided that the best thing to do with Baker was to test him out from the bullpen, but he was obviously over ruled by the front office. This is not the first time this has happened. People complain that Sveum throws his players “under the bus,” I get the impression that the front office often does “it” to him. You might as well “suit up” Theo and/or Jed and let them manage the games as well. It is getting to the point that managers may no longer be needed. You can resurrect the old “College of Coaches”. It can’t be much worse.

    • mjhurdle

      “He throws his players, mostly his young growing ones, under the bus all the time. ”

      can you provide some examples?

  • terencemann

    Wait, so 2015 is not the projected timeline for finished renovations?

  • Die hard

    Think Bud Black

  • cubchymyst

    The Cubs don’t need Baker next year because they already have build up quite a bit of pitching depth. The rotation already has Samardzija, Wood, and Jackson as locks. Outside of those 3 there is Arrieta, Grimm, Rusin, and Caberara (who is out of options, but I think fits best in the pen) who can compete for a rotation spot. Hendricks and Rameriz will likely be in AAA to provide additional depth. That said I’d like to see the front office bring in another starter on a Feldmann like deal if they can find one. That way the Cubs could have Grimm, Rusin, Hendricks and Rameriz in AAA as rotation depth, and maybe they can flip the veteran starter for prospects depending on the cubs standing at the deadline.

    • cubchymyst

      Realized I forgot to add Villanueva as a possible starter, he had done well in that position as well this year.

      • Kevin F.

        Baker’s on a Vilanueva deal essentially, no? Recovery just took longer than they expected. I’d be happy to have him come in next year, the rotation depth isn’t gonna be much better than it is now, because AA won’t be populated with candidates. I’m all for the idea of depth and more depth. Besides two of the locks you’ve mentioned have tailed off (Shark) or never really got up (Jackson).

        • cubchymyst

          AA won’t be populated with candidates? Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards both could be promoted which would put them in AA. If the don’t start next season at AA they should both be in AA after the midway point next year. No matter your feelings about Shark and Jackson, there is little chance that they are not in the rotation next year.

          • cms0101

            If they keep stockpiling guys like Baker in AAA, they’re simply going to run out of room for younger arms in the system to move up. That’s why they cleared out so many guys from AAA this season with PTBNL deals. Between AAA and AA next season, you’re going to have Raley, Loux, Struck, Hendricks, Beeler, Jokisch, Kirk, Loosen, Ramirez, Grimm, Rhee, Vizcaino, and maybe a few others I’ve left off. Some of these guys can move to bullpens, but I really believe they have enough depth not to roll the dice on Baker again. With all these names, where do Johnson and Edwards even fit in at Tennessee? Maybe a non-roster invite to spring training, but I’d be fine with not even offering Baker a minor league deal next year. He’s done. He’s throwing mid-80’s. If you’re going to find someone to get in the way of any of those prospects named, I’d rather see a better looking free agent signing than a reclamation project that is doomed to fail. Find a guy like Maholm, or even Baker to fill out the rotation if Rusin isn’t the answer. Not one coming off injury.

            • cms0101

              I meant to say Feldman, not Baker in the second to last sentence. NOT Baker.

            • cubchymyst

              None of the guys you mentioned will block Johnson or Edwards from being in AA. If the front office decides it wants either or both of those 2 in AA they will make room. My original post said they have the depth not to bring someone it, but I think they should because I am not convinced the Cubs have 2 pitchers who are ready to be staples in the rotation. Baker would not be my first choice but he is an option.

              • nkniacc13

                The Cubs have 3 pitchers in Daytona that when the FO wants them in AA they will make room.

                • cms0101

                  I’m not saying Johnson or Edwards would be blocked by those guys, but there is a question of roster room. Somebody will have to go. Do you choose to carry Baker over any of those guys? I don’t consider Baker to be a better option than any of the names mentioned above. They have 4 legit starters for next season. They could probably go into the season with what they have, but I’d be fine with going after one more pitcher to add to the mix. Baker isn’t the guy. I’d also like to see Iowa staffed with prospect-type pitchers, not has beens or 4A guys. I think they will have that next year. Just in AAA alone, Grimm, Raley, Hendricks, Struck, and Loux could be the 5 starters. Grimm and Hendricks being the best prospects of the bunch, but any of these guys could be depth arms. Hell, I’d settle for them grabbing Feldman again on a short term deal if he wants to come back. Or even Maholm. I believe he’s going to be a free agent. Just not Baker.

          • Kevin F.

            I don’t see either coming up early enough in ’14, if the Epstein/Hoyer plan stays in place. September possibly, not much before then. Again, depth is good.

      • mdavis

        Villanueva was meh as a starter. He’s best in that swing roll. And wouldn’t Baker possibly be that “feldman like deal”? he’s not going to get anywhere near the contract the cubs gave him this year. probably could be had on the cheap, incentive type deal if they wanted to bring him in to compete for a spot. That being said there are plenty of injury/reclamation types out there who will probably only get one year deals.

        • cubchymyst

          I agree that he is best for a swing roll as well, but he is could fill in as a starter. My point was the Cubs have built up some rotation depth and could roll the dice with what they currently have and not be in bad shape. However, I’d like to see a 1 year type reclamation type for added depth, and Baker could be that player.

          • jkppkj

            The Cubs have more than enough middle to back of the rotation type arms.

            Objectively, Shark and Arrieta are #2/3 if they hit their ceilings, neither is really going to be an elite pitcher, but could be real good if they got it together.

            Shark, Wood and EJax will be in the rotation next April. None of them are aces, if they all had career years that would be a really solid 1-2-3, but nothing otherworldly. That’s IF they had career years.

            So for the two remaining rotation spots you already have Arrieta, Rusin, Grimm, Villanueva, and maybe Hendricks and/or Ramirez. The top two out of that crop should be more than serviceable.

            I think with all the depth in decent starting pitching, the onus would be to try and bring in a high upside guy like Josh Johnson if he can be had for a reasonable price. Maybe they see Baker as that guy and his price will likely be lower.

  • Cubbie Tim

    Brett, whose spot on the roster does Baker take. Please say it’s ransom

    • mdavis

      not Brett, but looking at the 40 man i think thats the most likely. He’s slumped majorly in the second half, and barely plays at all these days. I think he’s gone. McNutt is the only other guy on that list you could say maybe too, but I’d rather keep a young arm on the roster than a 38 year old slumping utility man.

      • macpete22

        I forgot Ransom was still on the team

  • Cubbie Tim

    I agree

  • Andrew

    I am not ruling out Lake improving his approach. Not that he’ll walk at a league average rate, but he’s shown in the minors that a 6.5-7.5% is not out of question from Lake, especially if he develops some more power. Luckily I think there is definitely a place on this team for Lake even if he’s not an everyday starter, he might be a good platoon guy/supersub/pinchrunner and there is value in that.

    • cub2014

      if lake could control overswinging he could be really
      good. he is a lot better at laying off breaking balls.
      still at least once in every at bat he swings from his
      heels. if he could hit the ball to the right side that
      would help him a lot too. if he fixes a few minor things
      he could be really good.

  • ruby2626

    Because of Lake’s speed I think you have to adjust for that in what BABIP he will normally have. I think the guy has been spectacular, one of the few guys worth watching on an unbelievably dull team to watch. I think it’s silly for people to already be projecting him as a career 4th OF (although I might have done that by pointing out he is hitting almost .400 against lefties), the way he keeps improving I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the finished product will look like.

    Interesting game for Baez last night, 1 for 2 with 2 walks and I believe a K. Problem was a big error resulting in 3 unearned runs. I predict once he gets to AZ the coaches are going to really concentrate on improving his fielding and you’ll see major improvement next year. Be interesting to see where he plays in the Fall, 2nd or 3B, didn’t I read where another guy is playing SS. Can’t wait to get Barney out of our starting lineup, maybe a team with hitting up and down can afford to have a one dimensional player at 2B, but certainly not us.
    Noticed in the Boise box that a certain hitting coach nicknamed Billy Buck got tossed, glad to see he still has the fire.

    • http://bleachenation Sacko

      I have to agree that they didn’t bring up Lake looking for a utility man or 4th OF. He’s the most exciting kid to watch right now and will start next year. And..I do think Barney is traded during the off season.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    Feldman throws a CG last night.
    A SF no name is one pitch away from a perfect game last night.
    Baker gets shelled on Sunday and Dale will say something good about him and Theo won’t admit a mistake and signs him to a minor league deal.

    • Hansman1982

      I don’t get the “won’t admit a mistake” line. Is he supposed to come out and say “well, shit, I really fucked up in signing baker, damn that guy is just complete junk”?

      What would it take for him to “admit the mistake”, cut baker back in may when he wasn’t going to be back for a while? If he can get a guy who has been as good as baker on a minor league deal, isn’t that good?

      • http://bleachenation Sacko

        exactly that’s something he will not say and yes he is good for the minor league deal

      • cubspong

        I agree with Hansman and I think it was a good deal. It is obviously impossible to predict how every signing will turn out. As long as the logic is sound at the time of the signing, I have no problem with it. No front office will be right every time. I think the front office has shown a very good ability in spotting out undervalued talent. The more signings they make/ the more potential impact talent they acquire, the more likely a few turn out to be good which is the same logic they used in the draft in signing so many pitchers, and the same logic they used in acquiring many pitchers in the Garza trade. And therefore, I don’t think Theo needs to admit any mistake regarding the Baker deal because it was not a mistake.

        • http://bleachenation Sacko

          I agree with both of you. But any player chosen by draft or free agency that doesn’t turn out for any team any where was a mistake and no you can’t predict it because they woundn’t chose them in the first place. The point is Theo going after all these TJS is going to stay with them someway before saying he was a mistake.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Calling them “mistakes” is like saying that a 0.400 OBP hitter does “well” twice and “makes mistakes” 3 times every 5 PAs. Picking up the guys coming off of TJ works some percentage of the time: and there really is not much of a way of predicting which ones will work and which ones won’t. The fact that one TJ guy fails cannot be taken as any prediction that the next one will, too.

            • http://bleachenation Sacko

              good grief pulling at straws now. OK Baker throws 5 innings within 100 pitches, that would be a success story. I’m pulling for him but I doubt it.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                If Baker throws a perfect game, then it’s not a success story. If he gets bombed, then it isn’t a failure. Single games do not much matter.

                That written, Baker clearly is taking longer to recover from TJ than do most pitchers. We’ve gotten so used to TJ that people have begun to think that it’s an automatic success, but there still are a minority of guys who never really get back on track afterwards. The sample size is too small to attempt to generalize and there probably is no one reason (or even most common reason) for the failures, anyway.

                • http://bleachenation Sacko

                  Ok he would be a success story for that day.. giggling

                  • turn two

                    Point is its a strategy. Just like acquiring an excessive amount of international players who won’t be here for five years. You can’t look at one person as an example, you get waves of them and some work and some don’t. The front office figured maybe a couple will click and most wont, it gives you pieces and then since you signed them so cheap you discard the rest or resign them to cheaper deals and try it again.
                    Right now e have time, we are wasting for the rest of our pieces to grow and e don’t want to bottle up ask our money. Do you get lottery pick one year guts (only those coming out injury want three because they can prove themselves that year and then make bank if they are healthy) and when the time is right and holes are apparent e will get a couple real free agent additions.

                    • Bill

                      The amusing thing is some fans (and it appears Theo) thought Theo had stumbled upon a great approach, which no other GM had thought of doing, to acquire talent. It didn’t work and it’s not a good strategy a winning front office will adopt.

                      Kyle has linked multiple articles showing guys coming off arm injuries have a great chance of being hurt the following year and aren’t a good risk.

                      Let’s hope we’ve seen the end of the “sign all the TJ players” experiment.

  • http://Bleachernation Jay

    Theo was at the Smokies game last night. We saw him in the dugout during warm ups. He & I had a good conversation & I thanked him for his work. He also posed for a picture with me & my 4 year old son.

    • Caleb

      Awesome!

      • http://Bleachernation Jay

        Yes, it was very awesome!! Good night for me & the big man. We had an opportunity to speak to most of the players. My son, Alex, got ‘Javy’s’ autograph & Villanueva signed a broken bat for him too. I was pretty juked about Theo > just didn’t expect to see him.

    • MightyBear

      Where’s the pic?

      • Jay

        I’m trying, dude. Not really sure how to do it.

      • Jay

        [img]http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a3d726b3127ccef45a83f8204e00000030O10AaOWLVmzcMWIPbz4a/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00101833519420130907190045348.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D1/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/[/img]

      • Jay

        Javier Baez after the game signing a ball for the future SS of the Cubs :)[img]http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a3d726b3127ccef45a368060f400000030O10AaOWLVmzcMWIPbz4a/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00101833519420130907190049017.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D1/rx%3D720/ry%3D480/[/img]

        • CC

          Good stuff Jay!

          • Jay

            yeah, great night (aside from the fact that the Smokies got blasted)!

            • CC

              Javy took a couple of walks, were they not giving him much to hit?

              • http://Bleachernation Jay

                If I recall correctly, 1 for 2, 1B (off the end of the bat into RF), 2 BBs, K. Several swings & misses but the Barons pitcher was dealing. He made a throwing error in the field too > low throw to Bour at 1B with runners on.

  • Rcleven

    Good to hear Maples had a good start last night. If he can harness his control issues would be big. Maples has some nasty pitches. Lets just hope he can continue to throw them for strikes.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    Bring up Nelson, drop Cody

    • Bret Epic

      I’m just about ready to see anybody but Ransom at this point.

  • CubFan Paul

    “a .382 BABIP suggests Lake is in line for some serious regression, and the 4.6% BB rate/24.4% K rate tandem don’t inspire confidence”

    Why?

    Should we wait for the same with Trout who has a .387 babaip across two seasons.

    Making adjustments and continuing to put the ball in play is the name of the game.

    • Bret Epic

      I think a regression is possible, but Lake seems to make adjustments as time goes on. He’s definitely riding out more at bats than he was the first couple weeks he was in the majors.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Trout’s minor league BABIP was right in the same range as his big league BABIP. That’s the difference.

      • CubFan Paul

        That’s fair. So we’ll see. Not too many if any were counting on Lake as a starter so it would be nice if he continues his offensive pace next year

      • CGruegs45

        Good point Bretty

    • Andrew

      it’s possible that lake can keep up this BABIP but his history in the minors does not suggest it is likely. Trout on the otherhand had a ridiculously high BABIP all throughout his minor league career. Lake has had a pretty good BABIP in the minors, but only in a brief stint in Daytona was it as high as it is now.

  • David

    Ellsbury has a bad foot for Boston: could be broke, could be out for the year. Could cost him $ millions. Could save the cubs $ millions!!!!

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    I’ll take Sweeney over Ellsbury for 2014 in CF. much cheaper and no long term commitment is necessary. Almora should be ready in 2 more years so Ellsbury not worth the investment. Sweeney is only 28.

    • Jason Powers

      I dont you have much to worry about. Cubs will not be able to either afford his potential 100 contract or desire it from recent stories…of course that could a tactical move, but doubtful. I like Ellsbury but not beyond a certain price or duration. But is their frugality going to extend to the minors? ( Callups done only after they reach a magic innings or AB plateau?)

      Good business strategy but wont enamor those casual fans back to the ballpark quickly…guess we shall see in 2014.

  • Kyle

    I’m a little disappointed to see Lake’s K-rate creep back up to 24.4%. That’s still an improvement over what he was projected going into the year, but I’d love to see it stay in the 22-23 range. He’s a useful player there, even as a starter.

    • Bill

      It seems like he’s doing a better job of laying off the low and outside pitch. The one thing I’d like to see him do is cut down on his swing with two strikes. He’s got the speed that if he just puts the ball in play he has a good chance of reaching base.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    won’t have to worry about Lakes performance DALE doesn’t play him. what a dork

    • hansman1982

      YA! Cuz Dale’s benched Lake A LOT!

      • CGruegs45

        Dales a pimp bro. Let him do what he want. #InDaleWeTrust #100LossesBaby

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