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  • David DeJesus was a decent leadoff hitter for the Cubs for most of the last two years, but with him shipped out (and, if he returns, it would likely be as a fourth outfielder), the Cubs will have to find an option for 2014. Starlin Castro has been doing the job this year, but that seemed to be less about his aptitude there than about getting him as many at bats as possible this year where he feels comfortable. But Dale Sveum told Cubs.com that he actually is thinking about Castro as a leadoff hitter next year, in part because that’s where he seems to hit best (says Sveum). Unless the Cubs add someone like Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, they may not have an obvious leadoff hitter going into 2014. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t hate Castro batting first. If he’s back to hitting .300, then his OBP would probably be enough not to kill you in the top spot. For what it’s worth, Castro’s .350 OBP in the leadoff spot in his career is his best OBP at any spot where he’s amassed more than 300 plate appearances. (Castro’s best spot with more than 100 plate appearances? 8th – .392 OBP.)
  • All that said … I think the Cubs’ lineup would be dramatically improved with a higher OBP threat at the top, and Castro hitting further down in the order.
  • Baseball America revealed its minor league All-Star team, and the Cubs put three guys on the team: Javier Baez (DH, because Xander Bogaerts), C.J. Edwards (starting pitcher), and Kyle Hendricks (second team starting pitcher). I’ll have a bit more on the Edwards piece a little bit later, but it’s nice to see the Cubs once again well-represented.
  • Dale Sveum said last night’s outing was Chris Rusin’s most impressive of the year. It was certainly vintage Rusin: no walks, just two strikeouts, and just four hits over seven innings. If Rusin is to have long-term success as a back-end starter, this is the tack he’ll have to take. He’s going to give up hits, and he’s not going to strike out too many. But if the walks remain minuscule, he can be a useful starter, even if he’ll see significant regression from his current 2.85 ERA (.270 BABIP, 82.2% LOB). With a guy like Rusin, it’s all about managing expectations.
  • It has possibly been a frustrating season for Anthony Rizzo, whose production seems to be down this year, but even he recognizes that he’s hit a whole lot of balls hard that haven’t found holes.
  • According to one statistical analysis, the slowest player in baseball is … Welington Castillo?
  • cubsfanforever

    How nice to see Old McDonald on deck last night on deck in the 9th. Whether he was going to bat or not, COMPLETELY stupid to have it out there. Who in the hell do you think you were fooling and if in fact you would have put him up there to bat, you need your managers license taken away immediately you moron.

    • CubsFaninMS

      You can go ahead and just post a picture of a rotten tomato and get it over with, wudduya say?

  • Jono

    Maybe they’ll bring Soriano back to hit leadoff

    • ETS

      Only if we can sign him for 7 yrs/116m

      • Jono

        and a no trade clause, of course. I miss those

        • ETS

          If you look at Sori’s trends over the last 4 years then there is no way you don’t make that deal.

  • terencemann

    If Valbuena continues to improve, I would definitely like to see him leading off when he’s playing. His OBP has improved significantly over last season which was a significant improvement over the previous season.

    • Jono

      Valbuena? More like Nobuena (I immediately apologize for that. I’ll give myself a one day suspension from BN message boards)

    • Voice of Reason

      If Valbuena continues to improve? He hasn’t improved. He is still the same utility infielder who gets to start for the Cubs because they have nobody else!

      He has 11 home runs so he is driving the ball a little bit more this year. That’s it. Definitely not worthy of playing every day or leading off for the Cubs! Again, he gets to because the Cubs ain’t got nobody else ready and he isn’t costing the team a bunch of money.

      I’d rather see Vitters playing there everyday over Valbuena and Vitters can’t play third!

      • C. Steadman

        no…just no, valbuena is way better defensively and vitters has yet to prove that he can hit on the MLB level…I would take valbuena over vitters unless a lefty was on the mound

        • Blublud

          I hated Valbeuna, became a huge fan, and now I’m starting to dislike him again as a player. I would much rather see vitter play there than Valbeuna. I feel Vitters has much more upside. I don’t think Vitters bat will be a problem in the bigs long term. Defensively, we would have to see.

          • TWC

            “I hated Valbeuna, became a huge fan, and now I’m starting to dislike him again as a player.”

            Wow. A fickle Cubs fan. I’m shocked, SHOCKED!

            • When the Music’s Over

              Are people not allowed to change their minds anymore?

              • TWC

                No.

          • CubsFaninMS

            I was “meh” about Valbuena but now I believe he’s a serviceable placeholder until someone better comes along. Looking at our lineup, he’s clearly not the epicenter of our below average offense. He takes walks, shows power here and there, and doesn’t disappoint on defense. Is he our third baseman of the future? No. Is he a serviceable Major Leaguer? He is.

    • C. Steadman

      I wouldnt mind Valbuena leadin off on these type of Cubs teams, but once prospects are pulled up and we go hard at the playoffs…i’d rather seem him dropped to 6-8 slots and never see the plate against a lefty SP

      • Voice of Reason

        You know what you’re getting with Valbuena and it’s below average.

        As I said, there is no question that Valbuena plays a better third base, BUT the upside of Vitters bat is the difference. Play Vitters at third and let him swing the bat. Maybe he is just a stick off the bench in the future or maybe he’s a future left fielder or D.H. The Cubs stink so we might as well let guys play who we are uncertain about!

        Whatever, Vitters certainly has more upside potential than Valbuena who is nothing more than a utility infielder.

        • C. Steadman

          I see your side and agree Vitters has way more upside…also dont know why we’re talkin about this because Vitters is on the disabled list anyways

          • Voice of Reason

            I’m talking about opening day 2014. I want to see two or three more rookies in that starting line up next year!

            We know Vitters can’t play third, but when you have a meager offense like the Cubs do, maybe Vitters bat can make up for the lack of defense?

            • C. Steadman

              i think Olt has a better chance to be opening day 3B than Vitters..if vitters is in opening day lineup it’ll be in LF(both though are low chances unless awesome Spring performances)

            • waittilthisyear

              vitters is just so brutal at third base. if i had to hand the job out of spring training to either vitters or olt, it would be olt.

        • Drew7

          “You know what you’re getting with Valbuena and it’s below average.”

          By what measure?

          • Mr. B. Patient

            You seem to love Valbuena. Why?

            • Drew7

              Pointing out a flawed statement =/= love.

          • Mr. B. Patient

            1.2 oWar
            .727OPS

            You know, the things that equate to runs.

            • Drew7

              Go check the average OPS for 3rd basemen, then get back to me.

              Then, don’t leave out his defense, which has also been above-average.

              • Mr. B. Patient

                If he qualified, his OPS would be below avg for ML 3rd baseman. Now it gets tricky if you consider all 3rd baseman. His OPS would be 24th out of 61. Great, Then you need to consider the 15 guys below him without 100 at bats. I’m still going to say below average, but if you want him as our 3rd baseman, fine.

                Since most advance stats guys don’t trust advanced fielding stuff, I left it off, but his BR dWAR is .5. So good for that.

                • Drew7

                  ” I’m still going to say below average, but if you want him as our 3rd baseman, fine”

                  This is really tiresome. Nothing that I have said indicates I want Valbuena to start at 3rd.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    Drew7 pick one:

                    1. Valbuena is a good third baseman and should be our third baseman of the future.

                    2. Valbuena is just average and a good stop gap until our long term third baseman develops.

                    3. Valbuena is below average and I want to let another player take over the position so we can see what that player can do and maybe be our third baseman of the future.

                    • Drew7

                      How about:

                      4) Valbuena is a solid INF who, if the position isn’t addressed in the off-season, I wouldn’t mind seeing at 2B, where his bat would play well.

                      Ideally, I’d like to see him in a super-utility role, but he’s a good enough hitter that an offense wouldn’t flounder if he were pressed into a starting job.

            • mjhurdle

              by listing his oWAR, you just destroyed your own point.
              you admit that Valbuena’s offense is worth 1.2 more wins than a replacement level player, but earlier you said that his offense is below average. which is it?

              Valbuena has increased every meaningful offensive stats every year in his time with the Cubs.
              So how do you “know” what Valbuena will give you next year? To do that, you have assume that he will either stop improving, or guess at what his improvement will be.
              At which point, you leave the realm of “knowing” and enter the world of assumptions…

            • C. Steadman

              war is cumulative so using the 1.2 oWar sounds good for a defensive, platoon 3B…also .727 is above the NL average OPS of .705(but you could argue against that since he is a platoon and usually only faces righties) Valbuena is an average 3B that belongs in a platoon, but he isnt below-average

              • mjhurdle

                well said

    • cub2014

      Valbuena leadoff hitter? do I hear 100 losses.
      They need to go out and get a leadoff hitter
      period! That upgrades the whole lineup. I
      think Castillo is going to get better if Castro
      returns to form then except for 2nd and maybe
      3rd the lineup is pretty solid.

    • Blublud

      The Cubs have 2 guy who are close to MLB ready who could hit leadoff. Alcantara and not a prototypical leadoff guy, but a guy who could hold the spot for a while, Javier Baez. They also have another guy who if he could maintain a decent .330-340 OBP, he could work for a while in Szczur. Other then that, its either Lake, Castro or FA.

      • C. Steadman

        i’d like alcantara or szczur lead off…dont think I want Baez there…he’s our premier power hitter, so I dont want to see his 30 HR potential be wasted on a bunch of solo shots with him batting behind the 7/8/9 slots

        • Voice of Reason

          Alcantara has to cut WAY back on the strikeouts to be seriously considered as the long term lead off solution. I like Szczur. He seems like the logical choice. I hope we see him on the opening day roster and leading off and playing everyday.

          Baez is not the answer at lead off. Forget about that!

          • cubchymyst

            Striking out too much is not a reason to veto someone for the lead off spot. As long as the have a decent OBP they should be considered to lead off. From what I’ve seen you want your lead off man to get on base often and see a few pitches. If he strikes out he is seeing at least 3 pitches.

            For Alcantara lets wait to see how he does in AAA. For next year if a free agent isn’t brought in to lead off I’d put Sweeney first if he is back next year.

      • CubsFaninMS

        If we plan to throw Javier Baez’s name in the hat as a leadoff hitter, we may as well throw in Vogelbach and Edwards also for good measure.

        • C. Steadman

          sign Zambrano for leadoff role?? the dude can mash

          • CubsFaninMS

            Good idea! And the Gatorade cooler would be demolished after the first hitter in the first inning. They better weld it down or something!

            • C. Steadman

              they need a dummy Gatorade cooler for Zambrano, while all the other players know where the real one is hidden

  • jon

    You don’t need a leadoff hitter, you just need more good hitters.

  • C. Steadman

    Chris Rusin is looking like a good #5 rotation guy goin forward…SSS for sure, but solid results yet…I dont think I would trust him starting a playoff game whenever the Cubs make it, but i would have no problem throwing him for 32 starts a season behind the potential lineup including our Big Four

  • CeeDeeVee

    With the SPs on the market, I definitely rather see Rusin get a spot rather than a free agent.

    And this is a bit off topic, but I guess it would count as an “other bullet”, but what do you guys think of the whole Jose Fernandez situation the other night? I got pretty ticked off that Redmond didn’t stick up for his player ESPECIALLY when it was the Braves that started the whole thing. Atleast Dale wouldn’t do that, I don’t think. And Chris Johnson is a punk.

    • C. Steadman

      It wasnt just Chris Johnson who started it…he just escalated the situation…Jose was bein a punk on the mound as well…they were sayin he would smirk and smile at the Braves he would get out..that doesnt fly in pro baseball, especially against a team that will be playing in October while Marlins will be sent home. I liked how Brian McCann handled it, when he tried to talk to the rookie…looked like he was trying to have a nice veteran-to-rookie chat before Johnson came sprinting in

      • mjhurdle

        I have never understood the why players get so mad about other players “showing them up.”
        If you don’t want to see the pitcher smirk, don’t let him strike you out.
        if you dont want to see Soriano take out a lawn chair to sit back and watch his HR, dont let him hit a HR.

        • Blublud

          I agree 100% with this. I actually think show boating is good for sports.

        • C. Steadman

          because it isnt college or HS anymore, these are all professional players (average age 28) so when a 21 year old rookie is showing up a playoff team it’ll rub them the wrong way, he wasnt showing respect. also when Jose watched his homer 4x longer than Soriano ever has its gonna piss some players off

          • mjhurdle

            i guess that is what i have a problem with.
            Why is taking pride and enjoyment in what you did “not showing respect”.
            why do hitters have to pretend they did nothing special when they crush a 450 ft HR? Are pitchers that fragile that they can’t let the dude enjoy his moon shot?
            Are batters so weak that someone smirking at them after striking them out is going to get them so riled up?
            if so, how do these people exist outside of a baseball field where their precious feeling are protected by some out-dated mantra of “showing respect”?
            Im not saying i condone a batter/pitcher pointing at or deliberately taunting the opposing team.
            But what is different from Chris Carpenter screaming and pumping his fist after a strikeout and Fernandez smirking?

          • Blublud

            And if I was Fernandez and I knew I was getting under their skin, I would have walked to 2nd base. The point is, these are grown men, they should not let a little show boating unravel them to a point that they have to clear the benches and start a fight. The fact of the matter, Fernandez showboated, but the braves started the altercation when McCann felt it was his right to say something to the kid. McCann was the one in the wrong. He has no right to say nothing.

            • C. Steadman

              McCann is an established veteran and didnt do anything wrong…look at the “talk” McCann had from an angle and Jose was actually listening to him..if Johnson hadnt run in from 3rd the benches wouldve never cleared..Jose is a great player and shouldnt be judge by this one game, bc he isnt a punk, just when Chris Johnson is gettin on him

              • C. Steadman

                http://nesn.com/2013/09/jose-fernandez-apologizes-says-brian-mccann-talked-to-him-like-a-dad-teaching-a-kid-after-home-run/

                Read this if you think McCann was in the wrong…Chris Johnson escalated everything

                • CeeDeeVee

                  Don’t forget about Gattis, staring him down like if he just put his team on top. And btw, I love how Johnson was cursing him out when he batted, then with the McCann, he sprinted in lile he was gonna lay someone out, and he got behind the Umps. Seriously dude?

                  • C. Steadman

                    yeah Gattis too..a bunch of little things added up into something that shouldnt have happened..you cant expect a 21 yr old to be the bigger man and not react to Gattis and Johnson, sounds like Fernandez learned from this and I cant wait to see him pitch in 2014

                    • CeeDeeVee

                      Yea you’re right, my biggest thing was Redmond not sticking up for his player. Going as far as saying that he’s not happy with Fernandez and all that. Whether he was right or wrong, you don’t say that. Morrison was the only guy who stood up for him.

                    • C. Steadman

                      yeah redmond should stick up for Jose…he made a rookie mistake…I love how Mattingly treats the Puig situations..thats what redmond shouldve done

            • Cubbie Blues

              I would disagree Blublud, he has every right to say nothing.

              • Blublud

                I see what you did there. ;)

      • Blublud

        I don’t think Fernandez did anything wrong and his manager was an idiot for not taking up for him. If the Braves player are that thinned skinned, they should play pro sports. Give me all the Fenandez, Brandon Phillips, TO, Ocho Cinco, Johnny Football(even though I hate him), Rajon Rondo(I hate him more), and to a degree, Javier Baez types on my team. They are usially pretty good at what they do.

        • Blublud

          I forgot about Puig, I would take him too.

          • waittilthisyear

            rondo is the only one on that list whose team has won it all, and he had a pretty good cast around him at the time. although i agree that often times explosive talents have explosive personalities that are worth dealing with, often times a team can only handle so many of those personalities (read: 1)

      • CeeDeeVee

        I thought the same thing until I saw Harold Reynolds’ breakdown. He showed all angles, including Fernandez laughing and joking around with a couple guys on the Braves. It was until Fernandez started dominating them, that the Braves got mad. Fernandez is always smiling, having a good time, and he isn’t showing up the other team. Mitch Williams said it best, “You’re getting mad at the kid because he likes to smile?” If Gattis stares me down after hitting a HR, and Johnson is talking nonstop crap, then you’re damn right I’m gonna admire my HR.

  • cub2014

    Rusin reminds me of a soft tossing
    lefty on the southside. He was pretty
    good.

    • On The Farm

      Eerily similar.

      Buehrle’s
      5.18 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, .290 BABIP, 72.6% LOB, 45.5% GB, 10.0% HR/FB, 3.84 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 4.21 xFIP

      Rusin
      5.32 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, .298 BABIP, 75.4% LOB, 47.6% GB, 11.1% HR/FB, 4.01 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 4.43 xFIP

      Maybe we got something here, maybe.

      • C. Steadman

        are those career numbers for Buehrle? I’d love Rusin to be our version of Buehrle!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That’s great work on the comparison, though that 1.15 difference in BB/9, the 1.1% in HR/FB, and that .008 difference in BABIP could combine to be a fairly significant difference. Very interesting, though, as Buehrle was also a strangely successful lefty with modest stuff but excellent control.

        • On The Farm

          Yeah, I knew it would be a little difficult since Buehrle has logged so many innings those numbers like BB/9 really is a huge difference when you look at the whole body of work. Although, I could note that the only time Buehrle posted a 3+ BB/9 was his first season (55 IP), so Rusin technically is still on track.

  • Robert Johnson

    Leave Castro at lead off. The Cubs look good at third with Valbuena & Mutphy for 2014. I’d rather see Valbuena at bat with the game on the line than Rizzo. Wood & Rusin would be my top 2 play off pitchers if it were to happen right now.

  • Headscratchin

    Castillo is slower than Navarro??? I’d have to see the run off to believe it. If I could stand to watch. Maybe I could lay down and watch, but I’d probably fall asleep.

    • Spriggs

      That was my first thought. Nobody could possibly be slower than Navarro. Right?

      • CubFan Paul

        Navarro has some infield hits.

      • chrisfchi

        What about prince fielder? Guy is about as big as a refrigerator.

        • D.G.Lang

          There was only one refrigerator and he played for da bears.

          • chrisfchi

            That is true. Should have said a truck or something…..

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Via Baseball America:
    Izzy (New York): How many pitching prospects (and which ones) do you prefer to Noah Syndergaard?
    John Manuel: I’d start with Archie Bradley, Taijuan Walker and C.J. Edwards. Andrew Heaney and Michael Wacha would be in that competition, could be one or two others that I’m not thinking of, but it’s not a long list. He’s in the top 5-7 pitching prospects in the game; just got a Roy Halladay comp from a FSL manager today.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      C.J. Edwards!!!

      • X the Cubs Fan

        John Manuel: Ha, that’s funny. No, it’s just from evaluators I’ve talked to in the FSL considering Edwards’ breaking ball superior to Syndergaard’s. Similar fastballs, Syndergaard probably has a bit better fastball due to the angle he creates to the plate, consistent velo and control, but Edwards at his best has the better curveball and secondary stuff, and he throws plenty hard.

        • C. Steadman

          I love CJ, but i read one report yesterday that said his fastball starts off in mid90s in the first and by the time the 5th rolls around hes sitting 88-91…Idk if this is true or not, but it doesnt sound too far fetched…heres to CJ drinking protein shakes and working out to gain 20lbs or so in the offseason…I really want him to fill out his phrame so durability talks start to go away, it seems that is the only question mark in him

          • RynoRooter

            That’s because he goes to the cutter more, and away from his 4 seamer. The cutter sits 89-91 mostly. He actually has held his 4 seam velocity quite well, at least since he came over in the trade.

            • C. Steadman

              good thats what I like to hear…the report was from a website I wasnt familiar with so I didnt know how credible it was…heres the link to it

              http://baseballinstinct.com/2013/08/16/prospect-instinct-c-j-edwards-rhp-chicago-cubs/

              • RynoRooter

                Interesting. All the first hand looks and reports I’ve seen from Daytona have him going to the cutter the 2nd time through the lineup, with the 4 seamer mixed in. He might be more in the 92 range with the 4 seamer after the first couple innings, but the high 80′s stuff is without a doubt his cutter.

                After a start last month, Kiley McDaniel tweeted something to the effect that Edwards’s cutter was the best one he had seen in minor league baseball in quite some time. Almost impossible to square up.

                • C. Steadman

                  i’ll take first hand accounts over some website I hadnt heard of before yesterday…its great he has a cutter too! his curveball has been getting so much praise that I havent heard about his cutter yet…he’s got four solid offerings now..itd be nice if he could add a 2-seamer that can work against lefties

  • MightyBear

    Ellsbury is going to lead off for the Cubs next year and the next 4 years after that.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Yankees need a shortstop

    • C. Steadman

      I love Derek Jeter…but yet agree, I hate seein this transition, I hope its the Derek Jeter tour in 2014(if he stays healthy) like Mo did this year…I would definitely buy a ticket for when the Yanks come to town

      • http://BN Sacko

        will they go after Castro?

        • On The Farm

          It would probably start with Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams, and there would probably need to be a pitcher included if they did want to trade with the Yankees.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Let’s do a recap of our 2013 season so far:

    Disappointments in 2013 (played below general expectations)

    Anthony Rizzo (slight), Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Michael Bowden, Darwin Barney, Scott Baker

    Pleasant Surprises in 2013 (played above expectations)

    Pedro Strop, Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, Junior Lake, Chris Rusin, Brian Bogusevic, Welington Castillo, Dionner Navarro, Scott Feldman

    If you’ll notice, more of our “budget friendly” players were pleasant surprsises than disappointments, whereas the larger contracts were more likely to be disappointments. Maybe that is due to the paradox that “high costs = high expectations”, but it does appear to be somewhat of a trend (perhaps in general, not with the Cubs). Further incentive to build our team primarily from the ground.

  • RoughRiider

    Over Rusins last 10 starts you could say he’d been the best starter on the Cubs. He’s certainly earned a shot at starting in 2014. He’s had as many or more quality starts than anyone on the team and as a ground ball pitcher he has a lot of value in Chicago when the wind is blowing out. I’d like to see him start the days before Samardzija with the difference in left and right and speed.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Shark
    Jackson
    Wood
    Rusin
    Arrieta
    Baker
    Grimm
    Anybody think we will still go after a FA pitcher

    • On The Farm

      Well Baker isn’t a lock to return next year, and you could add Villanueva to the list of starting options, but yeah I still think they may go out and try to find another.

    • willis

      They better. Grimm can’t start in the bigs. Baker won’t be around. Arrieta and Shark are complete wild cards at this point. Wood is good. EJax is a good #5. I don’t buy Rusin to be a full year effective starter. Yes, they need to get at least one good arm to strengthen this rotation.

      • On The Farm

        If you are going to judge the future of Grimm on 100-ish major league innings, then you have to do the same for Rusin. Either their body of work is enough for you or it isn’t. Rusin’s numbers in AAA weren’t bad for a hitting friendly league and he has already pitched 180+ innings this season total. As for Grimm you can make the case he was rushed to the majors, just a year ago he put up some really nice numbers in AA, but if you want to write him off after just over 100 big league innings that’s your prerogative.

        • willis

          I’ve never liked Grimm’s stuff for a starter. I think he could be a good reliever but not starter. I like what I’ve seen from Rusin, but I just don’t buy his stuff playing at this level as well as it has. He’ll have his chance for sure in ST and God knows he’s a super cheap option.

          My opinion is if the cubs are trotting out a rotation with the same cast of characters they have right now, it’s another long season. It doesn’t need much, but a little tinkering would be fine by me.

    • C. Steadman

      theres alot of buy low arms similar to Feldman that I think the Cubs jump on at least one

      • On The Farm

        I just hope its not Phil Hughes. I would rather take the risk he ends up a Fransico Liriano for someone else than he ends up dead weight for us.

        • C. Steadman

          i want to stay away from Hughes too..I was thinking maybe Mike Pelfrey or Ubaldo Jimenez…i wouldnt want to do both because I feel they both would want more than a 1yr Feldman type deal and that would leave the Cubs rotation too crowded..but wouldnt mind a 2year 3 year deal with one of these guys

        • C. Steadman

          maybe Vogelsong could be the 1yr deal candidate

      • http://BN Sacko

        I agree I think they will pursue a FA or a surprising trade.
        To much uncertainty on Rusin and Baker. And Grimm, Arrieta may be Bullpen candidates.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Liriano has to be come back player of the year. Not even the Pirates thought they would get what they got.

  • Jim

    Let’s say with Ellsbury knowledge of Theo and vice versa, and maybe the need to rebuild his value, I could see the Cubs working out a short term deal for Ellsbury. I could live with this lineup by say June 2014:

    CF Ellsbury
    LF Lake
    1B Rizzo
    2B Baez
    RF Schierholtz
    3B Bryant
    C Castillo
    SS Castro
    PItcher

    • Mr. B. Patient

      Jim, I think we’re more likely to see Olt at 3rd, and Ellsbury’s agent is Scott Boras, and I just don’t see him doing a shortterm contract. if they go in on Ellsbury, they go ALL in.

      • Jim

        If that is the case for Ellsbury, then I would pass.

    • Voice of Reason

      Take ellsbury out.

      He is not coming to the cubs. We have some young center fielders who will get auditions next year before they commit big bucks to a free agent center fielder.

      What in the world makes you think ellsbury is going to take a short term deal? He is going to get a nice payday and it ain’t going to be with the cubs.

    • C. Steadman

      if we see Bryant in 2014…its in September or at earliest after the all star break

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    We’ll sign a 2nd tier free agent to play CF with a high OBP: Nate McLouth and Coco Crisp (has an option year) come to mind. Jae-Hoon Ha will be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from Rule 5 and if he makes the club out of ST (it would mostly be for his defense if that were to happen) he’d platoon vs. LHP.

    We’ll trade Barney, Russell, Samardzija, and Schierholtz in the off season to save roughly $12M and re-sign Sweeney or possibly sign Nelson Cruz on a short term deal if the money is right. Bogusevic will get bench duty if we end up signing two free agent OFers. We’ll tender Donnie Murphy to be our super-utility guy, so it makes it easy to make room for Alcantara, Baez, Olt or Bryant in the near-future. Maybe Olt gets his head on straight and makes it out of Spring Training…

    [5.55] CF Nate McLouth (L) / Jae-Hoon Ha
    [0.55] LF Junior Lake
    [3.25] C Welington Castillo / Brayan Pena
    [1.25] 1B Anthony Rizzo (L)
    [6.75] RF Nelson Cruz
    [2.05] 2B Luis Valbuena (L) / Donnie Murphy
    [5.00] SS Starlin Castro
    [0.55] 3B Mike Olt
    [1.10] UT Bogusevic (L) / Watkins (L)

    [1.25] SP Travis Wood (L)
    [11.0] SP Edwin Jackson
    [0.55] SP Chris Rusin (L)
    [0.55] SP Jake Arrieta
    [0.55] SP Kyle Hendricks

    [5.00] LR Carlos Villanueva
    [0.55] LR Brooks Raley (L)
    [0.55] RP Justin Grimm
    [0.55] RP Chang-Yong Lim
    [0.55] RP Alberto Cabrera
    [0.75] SU Pedro Strop
    [0.55] CL Blake Parker

    $48.45M + $4M Fujikawa, + $13M Soriano, + $2M Soler
    =
    $67.45M

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That team might lose 500 games.

      • Hansman1982

        Ya, probably closer to 600

    • jt

      probably better than the team that started 2013
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT201304010.shtml

      • Hansman1982

        No, the rotation goes from an incredible strength to utter crap.

        • jt

          Garza was on the DL and C. Villanueva was in the rotation. Arrieta has been similar or better
          20/20 hindsight has Shark with a 4.44 ERA. Could a medley starting with Hendricks do as well?
          Russin has about done in 11 starts what Feldman did in 15. IP/start is down but ERA is lower.
          Wood will probably not be as good in 2014 but he is still Wood.
          Jackson will not be as bad as he was in his first 11 starts. He has actually been about what Jackson has historically been since those 11 starts.
          Garza tossed 71 IP offset by Marmol + Camp + Fuji + Rondon = 110 IP.
          Olt would replace Lillybridge and Murphy would replace Gonzalez and later the dandy li’l 2nd base gloveman.
          You are replacing DDJ with McLouth and Sappelt with Watkins; that is a wash
          Sori and his 254/287/454 would be relaced by Lake/Blugosevic; meh
          Cruz replaces Schierholz/Hairston; a wash.
          Gregg was not there in the beginning
          Ranson was not there in the beginning
          They lose Navarrow but Beef is improving.
          Rizzo is Rizzo and Castro is Castro.

          • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

            That lineup would look better if we could pry Carlos Gonzalez away from the Rockies. Samardzija + Schierholtz? The weird, low-pitch count piggyback thing would definitely play to Shark’s strength. Shifting Lake to RF would better profile his arm strength.

            CF McLouth (L) / Ha
            RF Lake
            LF Gonzalez (L)
            C Castillo / Pena
            1B Rizzo (L)
            SS Castro
            3B Valbuena (L) / Murphy
            2B Murphy / Barney

            • cub2014

              if you could get gonzalez and choo this
              offense would be totally different

              we need barney and shark to get off to good
              starts next year. trade em high

        • cub2014

          samardizja replaced by hendricks makes
          the rotation crap? i would think hendricks
          would have an era around 4.00 at worse

          • cub2014

            what would not surprise me is if the Cubs are
            struggling by trade deadline that Shark will be
            gone and the Hendricks or Edwards era will
            begin

            • another JP

              I’m with you 100% on that (Hendricks, but not Edwards yet). And Baez @ 2B/SS/3B… would be great if he could be average at 2B and take Barney’s spot. Rivero is another guy that will prolly be a RP option by June 2014.

              • cub2014

                the bullpen should be a real strength next year;
                gregg,strop,russell,parker,villanueva then for
                lefties: rosscup,raley maybe rusin righties: lim
                grimm,dolis,rivero,gurrier,cabrera,rondon (has
                looked way better) mateo,bard,rodriguez,sanchez
                and even bowden. then you still have Fujikawa
                and Vizcaino coming off DL. thats some real depth

    • another JP

      You’re on track with the exception of FA signings- they ain’t happening. Next years club will look very familiar to this year, which should upset many people but it’s a given that the FO didn’t rid itself of the bad contracts with the thoughts of signing another… the EJax one in particular couldn’t have pleased Ricketts much. I see Castillo C , Rizzo 1B, Barney 2B, Valbuena 3B, Castro SS, Bogusevic LF, Sweeney CF, Schierholtz RF, Navarro (Boscan if Navarro doesn’t resign), Murphy, Lake, Olt, some 5th OF acquired in FA/waiver deal, Wood, Shark, Jackson, Rusin, Arrieta/Baker/Grimm as 5th starter, CarVill, Russell, Strop, Parker, Rosscup, Lim/Vizcaino/another system arm, and- yes, the return of Kevin Gregg. Prospects like Hendricks, Cabrera, Dolis, Vitters, or Baez will eventually be worked in as injuries occur or other players falter. I hate to burst the bubble of everyone with creative trade ideas or FA favs they may have, but the 2014 team will once again show marginal improvement to where they might be lucky to win 75-80 games… but look out in 2015 when guys like Bryant, Edwards/Johnson, Rivero, or Soler show up.

      • Bill

        Why would Ricketts not be pleased with the EJax contract? Granted, he hasn’t pitched very well, but the payroll is not very high and it’s getting lower with Garza, Marmol, etc off the books. Are you saying Ricketts wants a Pirates type payroll and he will not be happy with any FA signings, or big FA signings? While I don’t think the Cubs will sign Ellsbury and Choo, I don’t think it will be for the reasons you are making.

        Why do you think a 2015 team with Bryant, Edwards, Rivero, Soler is a team to look out?
        It’s possible none of those guys make the 2015 roster or even if they all do what makes you think they’ll be very good their rookie season? Or are you saying it’s a team to watch because you are excited all these prospects will be finally playing in Chi?

        If the plan is to basically wait for all the kids to arrive then the Cubs aren’t going to be contenders for at least 3-4 years. Even when some of these prospects arrive it’s improbable to think all will produce, all will make significant contributions, especially during their first couple seasons. We also have 3 “core” guys (Shark, Rizzo, Castro), who don’t look like they can carry a bunch of young players to postseason. They might not even be good enough to be the starters in 3-4 years.

        • Mr. B. Patient

          Well said, Bill.
          We all dream of 2015 when a bunch of our stud prospects are playing, but we don’t realize it could take 2, maybe 3, years for everyone to come near their potential. Those teams will be more fun to watch, but we can’t expect instant playoffs.

        • another JP

          I’m saying what I said and nothing more. Any owner shelling out $52M/4 for a #5 pitcher’s results that he could get from a waiver reclamation project can’t be pleased. And all I referred to was the EJax contract… did I mention anyone else? For me to include Navarro & Sweeney on next years roster I obviously counted on Theo signing some free agents, so don’t be so quick to make assumptions based on what I said about one guy. And yes- I believe adding those individuals in 2015 will have dramatic effect on the Cubs record, because they’ll also be adding players/prospects in 2014. Give me an everyday line-up of Castillo, Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, Castro, Sweeney, Lake, Soler, a bench of Valbuena, Olt, Bogusevic, Alcantara, Andreoli. Wood, Hendricks, Edwards, Rusin, Arrieta/Pierce Johnson SP, with Vizcaino, Rivero, Corey Black, Parker, Strop, Rosscup, and Grimm in relief is a winning ball team. Bash it if you like, I say we can win with that team in 2015. And all the people that love to spend OPM say it’s not possible to win with just prospects. B.S.

          • Bill

            “You’re on track with the exception of FA signings- they ain’t happening. Next years club will look very familiar to this year, which should upset many people but it’s a given that the FO didn’t rid itself of the bad contracts with the thoughts of signing another… the EJax one in particular couldn’t have pleased Ricketts much.”

            Well, your first sentence says (or implies) no FA signings. Now, maybe you meant large FA signings. Fine, I wouldn’t disagree with that point. Still, the Jackson one isn’t a great example. Any decent FA you sign, you’ll pay a little more for then non-FA. When Theo signed Jackson a lot of people here were saying it was a very good sign (they tried to get Sanchez and he was the best option after him). People were saying EJax was a legit number 3/4 starter, not a number 5, like you said.

            Your post implies Theo won’t sign big FA’s because he just got rid of a lot of bad contracts. Theo didn’t make those big FA signings. The Cubs have lots of money coming off the books, so, don’t you trust Theo’s ability to evaluate talent? Why would Ricketts not be pleased if Theo thinks a player will help with their “longterm” plan?

            Well, thanks for giving me permission to bash your 2015 lineup. You don’t even know if half those prospects will be MLB ready in 2015. If those guys are all ready, and contributing, by 2015, Theo should be considered for doing one of the greatest performance for an executive in the history of MLB.

            Not only are these guys all going to be ready by 2015 they are going to be making above replacement level player contributions. Do you think we’ll have 4-5 guys fighting for the Rookie of the Year award that year.

            Wow, give me some of the drugs you are taking. I’ve never said you can’t possibly win with just prospects, however, the chances of that happening are probably smaller than you ever pitching a game for the Cubs. Not going to happen. And every Cub fan should hope it DOESN’T happen because if Theo only relies on prospects, we are going to have a looooong wait for a chance to win the WS.

            • TOOT

              Ah, Cubs have one of the BEST farm systems now(I think number 5). What chu saying partner.

              • Bill

                Yes, and very happy about that fact. Theo has done a great job improving the farm system. He still hasn’t improved the major league product. People were giddy last year about Shark, Castro, Rizzo. This year all three players took a step back or underperformed from what we hoped for this year.

                The number of potential TOR starting pitchers in the system is low. We all know pitchers get hurt, so we can figure some of these guys are going to be hurt at some time.

                We can’t field a playoff team in 2015, solely with prospects. Theo is going to have to make trades or sign some FA’s.

                • TOOT

                  Agreed. I think the 2015 will be fantastic! I really don’t think the average Cub’s fan realizes what is happening. I think FO will makethe moves you want in terms of available FAgents.

                  • Collins

                    I completely agree. I argue this with my friends back in Illinois everyday.

  • Aaron

    Let’s focus on securing a professional lead-off hitter that can get this offense jump started in 2014 and beyond. My choices include Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury.

    Who’s ready to see stolen bases (50+) , high on-base percentage (.376), taking extra bases and scoring 90+ runs? Time to open the wallet Mr. Ricketts.

    • Hansman1982

      The cubs will have the money to sign Ellsbury nex year but its a matter if you want him. Everyone wanted Bourn last year and that hasn’t worked well for the Indians.

      I want Choo but in 2 years he could easily be a platoon player.

      • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

        Nate McLouth is a better option than getting involved in the Choo or Ellsbury bidding war, especially when we have Albert Almora in the system. That would free up more money to pursue an elite, free agent starting pitcher in 2015.

        Choo vs RHP
        16.8/18.1 BB/K%, .326/.457/.571, .245 ISO, .376BABIP, 45.4wRAA, .443wOBA, 186RC+
        Ellsbury vs RHP
        06.9/13.6 BB/K%, .327/.372/.483, .156 ISO, .369BABIP, 16.9wRAA, .369wOBA, 130RC+
        McLouth vs RHP
        09.1/12.5 BB/K%, .282/.349/.423, .141 ISO, .311BABIP, 8.2wRAA, .339wOBA, 111RC+

  • Bill

    I would just as well keep Ryan Sweeney then go after McLouth. I doubt Theo will sign either Choo or Ellsbury because of the years they will want. Wouldn’t mind having either of them at the right price/years, but doubt that will happen.

  • ssckelley

    I think that might happen anyway, the FO is high on Sweeney.

  • jt

    I don’t often make up trades…
    but when I do they are often absurd…
    *
    James Shields and Alex Gordon are going to cost The Royals $24M in 2014.
    RF’er Schierholz will cost a lot less next year than LF’er Gordon yet they have similar numbers this year.
    Billy Butler is going to cost The Royals $12.5M in 2015.
    I believe Volegbomb could be viewed as a future Butler perhaps ready by mid 2015. If he were in The Royals system he could allow The Royals to trade Butler for value and save a bunch of money after the 2014 season.
    Add a major league ready arm, say Cabrara and a low level pitching prospect, say Maples and perhaps Shields could be had?
    Volgelbach, Schierholz, 2 good prospects for Gordon and Shields.

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