Quantcast

rick renteria cubsIt’s a snow day for The Wife and The Kids, so the house is a bit more lively than usual on a weekday.

  • Rick Renteria was officially introduced to the media yesterday as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, having been held up in traveling by his recovery from hip surgery. I’m sure it was nice to do the jersey thing, and the face-to-face thing, but there isn’t a ton of “manager” stuff in the various write-ups. There’s stuff about working with Starlin Castro and other hitters, but it’s most the generic, rah-rah stuff, rather than the Xs and Ox stuff. I guess that probably would have been a bit much to get into at the introductory press conference. Though I’d still like to know Renteria’s position on what kind of batter should bat second.
  • You can see recaps of the Renteria press conference here, here, here, and here, among other places.
  • For those wondering – or implicitly criticizing the front office – Theo Epstein said that Rick Renteria ultimately chose Brandon Hyde, the Cubs’ former Farm Director, to be his bench coach (Tribune). So it’s not like Hyde was forced on Renteria. Instead, I’d expect that the front office and Renteria both had input on the coaching staff, but the bench coach position was left largely up to Renteria.
  • Among qualifiers, your league leading batter (average) in the Dominican Winter League? It’s Junior Lake, with a .357 mark and an overall .357/.396/.480 line over 104 plate appearances, which is fantastic for the very competitive league (4th highest OPS, just behind Gregory Polanco and just ahead of Jurickson Profar). I still have my doubts that Lake can project to a Major League regular at a corner outfield position, but the young man can certainly tear it up in the DWL. Lake has been playing mostly left field of late (in deference to Felix Pie in center), which is good practice for him. As I consider his offensive future, I’m suddenly filled with sadness that he couldn’t stick at shortstop or even third base, where his expected offensive production would have looked pretty darn valuable. If there remains even a sliver of a hope that he can play average center field defense, I hope that’s where the Cubs focus his efforts. In left field, the bat looks below average to me, even if he largely maxes out his ability. (If the Cubs are going to give a young guy a chance in left field in 2014, rather than try to bring in an established bat, I’d just as soon see them give Josh Vitters a shot, given his upside at the plate (which, I know, is hard for some to hear). Actually, shrug. Let the two of them fight it out, I guess. If the punt play is already in effect by then, what’s there to lose? Maybe one of them breaks out.)
  • Epstein was asked yesterday about Kyle Hendricks’ chance to break camp with the big league club, and Epstein downplayed that possibility (Sahadev Sharma), indicating that Hendricks – who dominated AA and spent his last six starts at AAA last year – will start the year at AAA with some things left to work on. In terms of near MLB-ready pitching, Hendricks is as good as it gets for the Cubs, though most believe his ceiling is as a steady back-of-the rotation type, rather than a front-end guy.
  • Farewell Zach Putnam – the White Sox signed the former Cubs reliever to a minor league deal. Putnam, who had relatively minor elbow surgery last year, was fantastic at AAA for the Cubs, and nearly the made the team in 2013 out of Spring Training. He must have liked his chances to crack the White Sox bullpen better than the Cubs, or maybe the Cubs were simply ready to move on.
  • The Cubs lit their Christmas tree outside of Wrigley Field last night. In the future, that’s where the plaza will be.
  • President Obama has named Cubs board member/owner Laura Ricketts to the board of trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Over in the Bears’ world, there are sadly more injury bits to discuss, but also funny pictures!
  • Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 13. Start the countdown clock: 69 days.

(Picture via Renteria’s welcome message to Cubs fans.)

  • cub2014

    interesting Lake out hit Profar. If there
    is any chance Lake can play a solid
    centerfield let see it. He has the speed
    and the arm but can he play it? If we
    arent bringing Choo in then lets see what
    these kids can do. Might as well.

    Lineup of: Lake CF, Sweeney LF, Castro SS
    Rizzo 1B, Castillo C, Schierholtz LF, Olt 3B
    then Barney 2B or whoever. (Not a very strong
    lineup).

    • Blublud

      I disagree. A lineup with 2. Castillo 3.Rizzo 4. Barney 5. Olt 6. Castro 7. Vitters 8. Lake 9.Schierholtz could have the potential to suprise over the season. Find a RH bat to platoon with Schierholtz, and let Sweeney bat at times against righties for either Lake or Vitters, keep Watkins and Valbuena on the bench with Kotteras, and you could have the makings of a very average lineup. nothing special, but i don’t think it would be that bad.

      • Norm

        You also have the potential for 6 players with sub .300 OBP’s.

        • Blublud

          I dont see 6 sub 3 OBP guys in this lineup.

          • Randy

            I see 90 losses

      • Die hard

        Yikes! If that’s all there is even assuming another bat count 95 losses

        • Blublud

          I don’t know who they may or may not sign. I’m just going by what we have now. I don’t think that’s a 95 loss team if we have anything close t the pitching we had last year. i still think the Cubs have a decent amout of talent on the big club. Rizzo, Castro, Castillo all have potential to be one of the best at their positions and Olt has the power, as well as Vitters. I could actually see Castillo(10-15) Rizzo(30), Barney(10-15), Castro(20), Olt(20), Vitters(15), Lake(10), Schierholtz(25)) a decent amount of power on this team. Of course, these are all best case scenarios, but all very reachable.

          • Jason P

            You see Barney possibly hitting 15 home runs? I just don’t see it. I think 7 or 8 is his ceiling. Castro getting 20 and Schierholtz getting 25 are also pretty far stretches. I think last year’s power output for Schierholtz (21) might have been the outlier, given what he had done every year leading up to last.

            • Blublud

              Maybe 15 is pushing it, but I could see 10.

              • Hee Seop Chode

                I like your optimism BB. I don’t agree with your assesment, but I like the sentiment.

            • cub1

              We had plenty of power last year. We didn’t score runs because of our OBP.

            • C. Steadman

              Nate can hit 20+…he had the most PA in his career last season (503) which wasnt even a full season of PA..the most in a season before that was 362 when he hit 9 HR…he’s a lefty hitter playin 81 games at Wrigley…i will put money on if he gets 500+ PA that he’s over 20 HR

      • X The Cubs Fan

        At first I thought this was you’re batting order.

      • http://BN Sacko

        I thought you said you had a BB background. I’m sure glad you don’t have any say about lineups.

        • Jason P

          That’s not his lineup. The numbers are the positions.

          • http://BN Sacko

            It still sucks Vitters? Barney 10 HR’s?

      • TK

        Our current team relies heavily on how Castro and Rizzo do, obviously. youd think they surely must o better in 2014. I like Lake. I feel like if he could get on base regularly, he could lead off, and Castillo would be our best option at #2 with Castro either 3 or 5. This is based on what we have, not ideal batting position. The problem is that we’re missing 1 middle of the order bat. Until we find 1 (Bryant?, Baez?) we will not be able to score runs consistently, and therefore not win consistently. Botton line.

        But this team wont do JACK unless Castro finds his bat.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      If Lake can play center I’d still take Choo and put Choo in the corner.

  • CubFan Paul

    “Josh Vitters a shot, given his upside at the plate (which, I know, is hard for some to hear)”

    People/fans are questioning his bat?

    “Maybe one of them breaks out.”

    Vitters (LF), Olt (3B), Lake(CF), & Watkins (2B) should all break camp with the team and be starters in April. Come next offseason, we’ll know who’s really in the ‘core’

    • Bret Epic

      At the very least, it seems like we have an increase of guys who could potentially have an impact at the Major League level. Any progress is progress, and win or lose, I’m always excited to witness new players making an impact or breaking through.

      • Blublud

        I actually still have decent expectations for Olt. I have high expectations for Vitters. I don’t think he’ll be a star, but I think he’ll have several very productive years at the big league level. I don’t think he’ll be any less productive then Schierholtz. I don’t think I’ll be all that “suprised” if either become very good players.

        • Bret Epic

          I see potential in all of the guys to be honest. Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think they all have enough potential to at the very least be given a chance. Really want to see Logan Watkins start a few games. Had a very good year in AA last year and though this was a down year, it was his first time around in AAA and he managed a .333 OBP. At the very least, if he can manage an OPS of .711 (AAA OPS) in the majors and play solid defense (I believe he can), he’d be an improvement over Barney.

          • TK

            Look at Watkins’ L/R splits. This is something EVERYBODY ignores about him for some inexcusable reason. The guy flat out CANNOT HIT LEFTIES. He’s far worse than Rizzo vs LHP, but with no other attributes (power/speed). Not even a little bit. Not to save his life. He has no business starting on any MLB team. He is a prototypical platoon player, and not even a good one, really. You have a platoon at 2B, you have a bad team. Lets please ove past the Logan Watkins experiment.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I agree that Watkins is a platoon guy, but he does have speed (except last season, apparently, when his steal inexplicably dried up).

              I also disagree that platoons are a sign of a bad team. Lots and lots and lots of very excellent teams in baseball history have used platoons very successfully. Done correctly they can be a very smart way to maximize production at various positions.

              • TK

                Platoons in general dont mean a bad team, but tell me a good team that platoons(ed) at 2B. SS and 2B need to be consistent and stable. You can platoon anywhere else, but you cant F with the MI chemistry and win very many games. You have to a ONE guy at 2B.

            • noisesquared

              Well, Barney can’t hit anything – left handed or right handed, so even if Watkins can hit RHP w/ a .700+ OPS, he’d be an improvement offensively.

              • TK

                Good point. Id like to see Valbuena gat a shot at 2B this year.

                • Jeff

                  I’d like to see Valbuena DFA’d

          • Kyle

            The majors are kind of known for being harder to hit in than AAA.

            • DocPeter Wimsey

              Rubbish! Hitting is all about confidence, character and intestinal worms, isn’t it?

              Seriously, the one thing that gets left out of people’s reasoning about miLB hitting stats is that the good pitchers graduate to the next level. That ends at MLB, where they pile up. The Red Queen basically stops running there: and that is when a lot of guys who could hit there way through the minors show that they cannot bat well in the majors.

              • mjhurdle

                dont forget lineup protection and “Veteran Players” on the roster. Those are also crazy important to helping someone hit at the major league level.
                dont bother with things like talent and ability. All it takes in protection, veterans, and confidence!

              • cub2014

                Confidence? Extremely important, obviously
                you have to have the skills to hit. But confidence
                is extremely important in regards to the level of
                success a player will have.

            • Bret Epic

              No really? “I had no idea it’s harder to hit in the majors” said no one ever.. I said “if” and obviously, he would need to make adjustments. A big part of that comes with more playing time.

    • itzscott

      I agree 100%….

      Play the kids regularly….

      Szczur – CF
      Castro – SS
      Rizzo – 1B
      Olt – 3B
      Lake – LF
      Castillo – C
      Vitters – RF
      Watkins – 2B
      Pitcher

      Filter in Baez, Bryant, etc when they’re ready.

      What’s to lose?

      • Kyle

        The No. 1 pick in 2015 would be pretty sweet.

      • TK

        Id really like to see Szczur and Ha get a chance out there along with Lake. They may not be part of The Plan, but they could be of value to other teams via trade. Teams like the Rays and A’s and Cards who value players differently than we do.

        • Kyle

          If you want to build their trade value, rushing them to the majors that they aren’t (and probably never will be) ready for doesn’t seem like a great idea.

          • TK

            I hardly consider giving them a CHANCE this year (as opposed to just ignoring their existences and determining right now that they wont be on the team) is hardly RUSHING them. They werent drafted yesterday. Theyve worked through the minor leagues. If they don’t get a chance this year, they probably never will. So, why not? And why exactly do you say they are not ready? What do you see that they still need to improve, or have a reasonable likelihood of improving upon in the minor leagues?

            • MichiganGoat

              Neither of those players are showing any reason to be called up next year, and very unlikely that either will have MLB value but as minor leaguers they do have some trade value as a sweetener to another deal.

            • Kyle

              They aren’t ready because they don’t hit very well in the minors.

              MLB roster spots are valuable. You don’t give them out to mediocre minor leaguers just so you feel like your prospects are making progress. They aren’t.

              • MichiganGoat

                ^This^ Lake MiLB numbers towered over these players, and they weren’t overly impressive.

            • TK

              Oh, they just get on base, play good D, run very well, and work hard. They dont hit HR’s . . . My bad!!!!

      • cub2014

        I dont think we will be seeing Szczur,
        but with our current team I would have
        Lake bat leadoff. He is not a prototypical
        leadoff hitter (strikes out a lot) but he is
        aggressive and hits strikes very well. Also
        did really well there last year until they
        decided to move him to 6th and stick Castro
        there. (Why ?)

  • Eric

    I’m glad Renteria got at least one rah-rah day before the daily grind starts.

  • Blublud

    If the 2014 season is going to be aother “lost season”, then why not play Lake in CF and Vitters in left. they sould even get the most at-bats against RHP. I know we have Shierholtz and Sweeney, and the lefties should typically see the most at-bats against righties. We can assume and guess all we want, but we will never know if Vitters and Lake have breakout ability if we don’t play them. I don’t see what we have to lose by breaking camp with those two as the LF and CF starters.

    • Kyle

      I would consider a chance to give both of those guys serious MLB at-bats to be one of the upsides to not trying too hard in 2014. If we’re not going to go for it, might as well.

      But I think we’ll probably get a flippable veteran OFer instead.

      • Rebuilding

        An outfield of Lake, Sweeney, Schierholtz, Vitters and Bugusevic opens up all kinds of platoon arrangements that might actually give you a slightly better than average outfield production overall

        • Blublud

          I hope we find someone better than Bugs.

          • Bret Epic

            Bogusevic-.273/.323/.462 6 HR 155 PA
            Sweeney-.266/.324/.448 6 HR 212 PA

            I like Sweeney better and I think that he’ll be better than Bugs going forward, but the numbers are surprisingly similar.

            • cub2014

              I am not sure about Bogusevic either
              but he is a converted pitcher who didnt
              get to bat for 3-4 years I believe. I think
              last year was his 4th year as a hitter.

              • Bret Epic

                I think he’s more of a bench guy, but I like him. Looks like he started the conversion in 2008, but he was still pitching too.

                • Bret Epic

                  He didn’t take a lot of walks this year, but he worked deep into a lot of counts and has a history of having a good hitters eye.

  • CubChymyst

    I noticed you started the countdown clock at 69. :)

  • mjhurdle

    Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan 21m
    Agents overplay their hands all the time. Jay Z happened to do so with his first client and potentially sports history’s 4th-richest deal.

    Heh, apparently it is a bit harder to be a top agent than Jay-Z thought.
    Somewhere Boras is laughing his butt off.

    • Blublud

      I doubt Boras is laughing. Even if Jay-Z doesnt get the Contract he thought he could, he still took a whole lot of millions out of Boras’s account. It amazing how many people wish failure on a man. I think Jay-Z is the one sitting laughing at you guys.

      • mjhurdle

        it is more amazing that so many people think that any criticism of Jay-Z means you are “wishing failure” on him.
        Let the man-crush go dude. i have no ill will to Jay-Z. He (apparently) messed up the first major deal he got. Doesn’t make him horrible, but it is a little funny after all the “of course Jay-Z will bean awesome agent!!” talk.

        As far as Boras goes, if this Cano thing goes the way it looks like it is, then Jay-Z may be driving more players to Boras in the long-run, which will result in more money for Boras overall than what he is missing from Cano.
        But who knows, maybe he rebounds and the Mariner deal gets back on track.

        • Blublud

          I’m sorry. Has Cano signed a deal for less than market value. I mean with the passing of Nelson Mandela(RIP to a great leader) i didn’t watch many sports last night. Did I miss the annoucement. I didn’t see a write-up by Brett. I recall people laughing about Boras fumbling the Fielder deal. How’d that turn out. Until Cano sign a 3yr/45mil contract, don’t talk to me about Jay-Z fumbling his first deal.

          • mjhurdle

            “Until Cano sign a 3yr/45mil contract, don’t talk to me about Jay-Z fumbling his first deal.”
            I think im safe here. So many people declared that Jay-Z would be a great agent before he did anything to show that, so I’m sure none of them would be so hypocritical to judge me for agreeing with the vast number of reports coming out that Jay-Z messed up the Mariner deal…
            plus i did add the whole “But who knows, maybe he rebounds and the Mariner deal gets back on track.” to illustrate that I understand the process isn’t over and anything could still happen. do there is that…

    • Kyle

      Notice that when Boras got a deal he liked for Ellsbury, he jumped on it.

    • itzscott

      Jay Z’s a rapper….

      Obviously he’s gotten thru life believing that if you talk fast, loud and with a rhythm, you can accomplish anything.

      • DocPeter Wimsey

        Huh, I never realized that rap and Wall Street had so much in common!

      • Jeff

        There was some rap group from NY that was popular in the 80’s and 90’s who had a song with lyrics, “Don’t Believe the Hype”

        I’ve never believed in the Jay-z Hype!

        Jay-Z might be worth millions but .50 cent kicks his butt every time.

        • noisesquared

          Some rap group from NY = Public Enemy. 100x better than Jay Z and 50 cent.

          • Jeff

            Yeah Boyyy

  • http://permalink toby taylr

    still one big puzzle for this club due to keepin rizz@ 3hole in lineup moving Castillo up to 4 and sliding shierh/sweeny in at 5 —–who can we get AAAA/mlb ready/unproven or proven to leadoff for this team? got to have a leadoff hitter and still not a one on the roster

    • Jeff

      Arismendy Alcantara is my hope for the next lead off guy. I would keep him and Baez at AA until July and at the trade deadline hope he is ready to call up to play second base and bump Baez up to AAA.

      • Professor Snarks

        Why would you keep A.A. and Baez in AA?

        • Jeff

          There is no sense in rushing their clock, this team won’t be ready till 2016.

          Get use to it now, we are tanking 2014 & 2015 for top draft picks.

          If you read through the lines in what Epstein was trying to say politely in his interview, the business plan won’t drop for another two years.

          That’s probably the amount of time Ricketts has told him that they need to fleece all profits from the Cubs to pay of their debts.

      • On The Farm

        Why wouldn’t you want them at AAA and then call them up to the MLB team from Iowa?

        • Jeff

          Cause it’s cold in Iowa in April and Baez only has a half season in AA. I’d keep Arismendy Alcantara there to keep the double play combination in tact.

  • cub1

    Why was Lake moved to the outfield? I thought it was just because we needed bodies there. Was he a poor infielder? Think how well his bat would play from 2nd base! Does anybody know if he could play a solid 2b?

    • mdavis

      he’s pretty rough inconsistent in the infield, and frankly too big for 2B.

    • Kyle

      He was a pretty terrible infielder and couldn’t play it to MLB standards.

  • Rebuilding

    One problem with Lake is his ridiculous platoon splits. He mashes lefties though so he could be very valuable in a platoon with Schierholtz or Sweeney.

    Brett, no mention of Levine’s report last night that seems to indicate Baez will be playing 2b for the Cubs in late June?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s coming. That’s not a Bullet item.

      • Rebuilding

        That’s what I figured

    • Assman22

      Baez up in June 2014 is beyond incredibly optimistic…more likely he gets a cup of coffee in September and be up in late June 2015…no reason to rush Baez or any other prospect for that matter…only top prospect that may be up early this season is Hendricks…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        If that proves true on Baez, might be no point in rostering him in September (and starting service time) just for a cup.

        • Rebuilding

          Levine didnt just make that up. And Baez in the PCL just screams crazy numbers (even if inflated). Not to mention that if we are as bad as expected they will want to see what he can do and give the fans something. I think he’ll be up at the All-Star break at the latest

          • Rebuilding

            I also think that the way Machado and Bogaerts performed after their “premature” call-ups will help convince them

        • Assman22

          Still avoids Super Two if called up in September 2014 and then brought for good in late June 2015…Bryant will likely be in the same boat…

          • CubFan Paul

            There’s so little money committed after this year that Super 2 shouldn’t be a concern for Baez & Bryant (the extra year of control, yes), if they show that they’re ML ready.

          • ssckelley

            I agreed with you earlier, there is no need to rush them and this FO won’t. But on the other hand there is no need to keep them down just because of player control if they are proving that they are ready. I think the FO will let the players determine when they get called up based on their performance. If Baez tears up AAA the FO will look really bad refusing to bring him up and then turn around and send him back to Iowa to start 2015.

            • Rebuilding

              You could argue that keeping him down until THIS June is avoiding Super 2 as he would undoubtedly outperform Barney right out of spring training

              • ssckelley

                Yes, as I have argued before the only way you start Baez at the MLB level this season is if you feel the team can make the playoffs. But it is obvious they are not ready to “go for it” and it would not make any sense to bring Baez up until June at the earliest.

                • Rebuilding

                  Oh, I agree. Just saying that if he is what he looks to be, there is no way he is in Iowa in July

            • http://bleachernation.com woody

              Attendance may be a factor in all this. If the team is playing anything like last year and the FO doesn’t make any significant improvements then it is possible that the attendance will suffer. After all the hype that Baez and Bryant have had I would have to believe that a lot of fans would come to the ball park just to check them out regardless of the teams record. I know that I would like to see them.

        • Professor Snarks

          There will be a lot of factors to consider, like what the 40 man looks like, and how much playing time they can give him, but for me, if Baez or Bryant don’t start until June/July of 2015, the rebuild is set back a year. 2016 then becomes the ‘on paper’ .500 team.

          Besides, if some prospects don’t come up this year, August and September could be hard to watch.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I don’t really disagree with any of that. My *strong* hope is that Baez and Bryant both look so good in the first half this year that it’s a no-doubter to call them up in July and just let them play.

            • Rebuilding

              I think they will force the FO’s hand. In the PCL Baez might hit 25 HRs in the first half (assuming that’s where he starts)

            • Professor Snarks

              I’ll drink to that.

              Side note: Do Baez and Bryant feel the pressure of being the Cubs saviors? Maybe a tandem promotion would alleviate some of that.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                The pressure element will definitely factor into the timing of these things – that’s why Jackson and Vitters were promoted together in 2012.

            • TK

              Baseball guys never give definitive answers bc nothing is ever definite. Everything in MLB is dependent on other factors. Situation dictates. If the team is en route to 100 L, and looks likely to be aweful again in 2015, chances are we see Baez later rather than sooner.

              BUT, if we do retain Shark and sign Tanaka . . . And Wood pitches anywhere near as well as he has for us. And if Vizcaino can pitch healthy and near his old ability, with guys like Hendricks and Arrieta competing for the back end, we could have 1 hell of a rotation in 2014 and 2015. Couple that with a turnaround by Castro and Rizzo (particularly vs LHP), and if Baez and Bryant are still demolishing MiLB, Theo could see this team as ready to compete in 2015 . . . Baez at 2B, Lake in CF, Bryant in LF. THAT might warrant possibly calling up Baez in June, and even Bryant shortly after to get their feet wet and ready for 2015.

              I also noted that HanRam is due for FA after this year. Hmmmm.

      • CubFan Paul

        I could see Baez up in May, definitely June. Mostly because of injuries on the major league level.

    • Jeff

      Ever SS plays some 2B at some point so they can learn the pivot and transfer. It teaches them how to better get the ball to the 2B as a SS.

      I don’t see this as a huge issue or news story. The best long term value for Baez as well as Bryant is for them to remain at their respective positions SS and 3rd.

      That would give us two valuable trade chips for 2015 in Olt and Castro. They need to play this year to build their value to the highest.

  • John

    I am wondering why Lake can’t be put at 2B? I agree that he cant provide enough offense for a corner OF but at 2B his production might be (down the road) All-Star worthy…?

  • itzscott

    Not much I’d love more than seeing Junior Lake force all the statheads to sharpen their pencils, consider tossing away the calculator and once and for all consider WATCHING someone actually play baseball.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I have never seen a baseball game in my life.

      • Internet Random

        You should consider catching a game at Wrigley Field if you’re ever in Chicago. I hear it’s nice.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It’s on the bucket list.

          • Edwin

            I’ve heard you can have a fun time on the rooftops. Great view.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Being that I’ve never seen a baseball game, I’m not really sure what these “rooftops” are. Are they shingles or tile or something?

            • Jono

              haha. If you’re actually interested in the game, it’s much better watching on TV

              • itzscott

                Even better than watching a spreadsheet.

                • Edwin

                  I don’t know. Spreadsheet technology has really improved lately. I mean, there’s numbers, pivot tables, macros, font changes, formulas…it’s pretty great stuff.

      • hansman

        What is this “game” everyone keeps talking about? I thought websites just posted random numbers that didn’t mean a thing.

        Geez, first you tell me my OOTP baseball game isn’t the real deal and now you tell me there are folks who actually swing a stick at a ball made of cowhide? What’s next, we actually landed on the moon?????

        • C. Steadman

          I’LL DEFEND OOTP BASEBALL TILL I DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Stinky Pete

          Insert pic of Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber.

    • Blublud

      Why damnit, I agree. I love how when a guy proves a “stathead” wrong, their comeback is always he’s an exception to the rule.

      • Kyle

        What exactly did Lake disprove?

        • college_of_coaches

          He really hasn’t proved it yet, because it’s all in Lake’s forthcoming book: “Not-Money Ball: Privileging Subjective Observation over Quantitative Analysis” (Harvard Press). We’ll have to wait for the reviews.

        • Kyle

          Stathead: “We project that players of Type X only become useful MLBers 20% of the time. Players A, B, C, D and E fit that type, so none of them project as likely to be useful MLBers.”

          Two years later, Player E becomes useful MLBer.

          Math-illiterate fan: “Ha! Where is your stat-god now?”

          • wvcubsfan

            +1

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Except that there aren’t rules. Only probabilities.

    • Professor Snarks

      As someone who has always liked players with Junior’s skill set, even I have to admit he looks a bit rough out there. Saying that, it would be an incredible bonus to the Cubs rebuild if he somehow succeeded.

    • terencemann

      I really hate when people insert facts into arguments, as well.

      • Internet Random

        Worst of all is when they can back up their asserted facts. Then they arrogantly think that their observable, quantifiable evidence is somehow more persuasive than my gut feelings on the subject.

        Like those so-called pictures of the earth from space. I can look out my window and tell the earth is flat. I don’t need some educated hotshot who’s made a living of studying planetary science for the last 30 years trying to tell me it’s round.

        They’ve got their pictures from space, but I’ve got my own two eyes. My word’s just as good as theirs.

        • MichiganGoat

          By my eye test the earth is not flat I’m not rotating it’s the sky that is moving, if I’m sick I need to get out the bad blood. EYE TESTS NEVER FAIL!

  • http://BN Sacko

    Theo signed Sweeny to start imo, Vitters has a lot to prove and he sure hasn’t to this time.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Vitters proved at a young age that he can hit well enough at AAA to believe he’s got a chance at hitting well enough in the bigs to stick. His tiny sample cup of coffee is meaningless, and he was hurt last year.

      And I agree that Sweeney was signed to potentially start in center, unless something else comes up. Vitters doesn’t really impact the center field decision.

      • http://BN Sacko

        It impacts me that he has not played left in the majors and that he didn’t hit is more than meaning less, and that Lake has earned that position at this time.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “Earning” a position – to the extent that’s actually what Lake did in his tiny sample – doesn’t really mean a lot to me. Projecting future performance and value means a lot more.

          • itzscott

            Projecting future performance and value means a lot more?

            How about playing someone who appears to be earning it until they play themselves out of the position or someone better comes along?

            Innocent until proven guilty….Your reasoning is like projecting someone will become a criminal and putting them in jail before they have the chance to commit a crime!

            • Kyle

              That seems like an illogical way to run a baseball team.

            • Edwin

              Like minority report!

            • Edwin

              “How about playing someone who appears to be earning it until they play themselves out of the position or someone better comes along?”

              Starship Troopers, anyone?

              Are you secrety a huge sci-fi fan?

          • http://BN Sacko

            Vitters certainly has not earned anything thats for sure. Lake is going to get stronger while retaining his speed. He didn’t sputter out of the gate like Vitters did. In addition while he was hitting HR’s the next day he got benched. What was development there. And What did Vitters do this winter or better yet what is he able to do.

            • cub2014

              Sacko, Schierholtz hit .170 against lefties
              so this would be the ideal spot for Vitters
              to get his 2nd chance n 2014. Lets see what
              we have.

              • http://BN Sacko

                I do not disagree platoon I’m not seeing him starting in left before Lake. Platoon would get a better look then will see.

                • cub2014

                  Ya Sacko I agree with that.

      • Edwin

        I wouldn’t say his sample in MLB is meaningless. I mean, even for a small sample, it’s incredibly bad. At the very least, it should be something to take into consideration.

      • terencemann

        When Vitters was in AA, they started playing him at first instead of third or left which should tell us something about his defense. AA is when you should be challenging people to learn positions that are a notch over their natural talent.

        • Kyle

          Yeah, I’m not expecting much from Vitters in the OF. But it’s worth a shot if it’s a lost season from the get-go.

          • JB88

            Is it just me or is Vitters 2014 for Matt Murton?

            • Jeff

              Not ginger enough…lol

            • C. Steadman

              ah Matt Murton…looked like a promising outfielder but fell off the tracks in 08 and 09..

      • cub2014

        If Baez is going to be at 2nd doesnt that
        rekindle the talk on Alcantera playing CF
        that the Cubs had mentioned as a possibility
        back in June?

  • Jono

    Hopefully Larua’s status as one of the biggest democrat bundlers in chicago helps (or maybe has helped?) the Cubs get through some of these bureaucratic processes.

    • Jono

      *Laura’s*

      • itzscott

        Thought she changed her name to Larry

        • Edwin

          Classy.

  • Edwin

    I gotta say, I’m not so sure this new picture of Renteria is an upgrade. Maybe he should just have one of those default “no picture” boxes.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Vitters? I’m dumbfounded that some think Vitters turns into something. At best, he is right handed hitting rendition of Bogusevic.

    Watkins? Watkins isn’t really major league material either.

    Olt? Lots and lots of doubts, but maybe he can keep a seat warm for Bryant and Baez.

    Lake? I don’t know…seems like a potentially adequate role player.

    This lineup, as it currently shapes up for the start of 2014, is ugly again. 95 loss sort of ugly.

    • ssckelley

      Right, if by 24 years old a player has not proved he can hit MLB pitching then they need to move on. Vitters and Watkins should be DFA’d so the Cubs have room for more dumpster diving.

      Great post as always BlackHawk!

      • Blackhawks1963

        Ah yes. Another wayward fan using the tired rationale, “but he’s only 24, he’s only 24.” I can’t fix inch deep thinking. Vitters is entering his 8th year in the organization, and has been less than good at Triple A. Oh, and he doesn’t have a real position on the field either. He’s a wreck at 3rd base and has very limited playing exposure in the outfield.

        Good luck with that. I’ve moved on from Vitters a long timd ago. More importantly, so as Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod. Vitters is spring training and Triple A filler who might surprise for earn a cup of coffee, in similar to how a guy like Bogusevic and McDonald exist in prossional baseball.

        • mjhurdle

          “Vitters is entering his 8th year in the organization, and has been less than good at Triple A”
          well, at least one part of that statement is true.
          I would suggest a trip to Baseball Reference for a quick brush up on Vitter’s AAA stats before you go around making more silly statements.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          If Vitters has been less than good at Triple A, I’d suggest the standard for “good” might be a little high. At least as it refers to offensive production.

          • Blackhawks1963

            Good grief. Vitters suffered thru an injury plagued 2013 and didn’t advance defensively at any position on the field. He’s not playing winter ball. So he’s going to step in during spring training and win a 25 man roster spot?

            Ignore his lofty draft status as a 17 year old in 2007. Simply put, he is not a viable major league prospect.

  • Jake from da burbs

    Its been stated earlier… Lake should be learning 2B this offseason. Its not like Lake is a defensive wizard in the OF – he’s just learning that position. Instead, give him the offseason to learn 2B. He’s not going to be a gold glover but his bat at the at 2B would make him a better fit and asset than at LF. Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, and Donnie Murphy are all replacement level players who are all nice bench guys. And unless you’re moving Castro over there this year, put Lake at 2B. Now is the time to do it not mid-season.

    Even if Lake is not the 2B of the future, if he can prove to play average or replacement player level defense at 2B, with his offense, his trade value would be considerably more legitimate than LF. It makes sense to make the move to create the best value proposition because you know you’re going to move him. This would be creating a future offensive asset at an offensively challenged position.

    I’ll take .284BA, .332OBP, .428SLG, .760OPS with some speed, pop and below average defense at 2B over the same stats and average defense at LF. Plus, if you consider who Lake would be replacing at 2B vs who would be replacing Lake at LF, its an even better proposition.

    • Rebuilding

      If Lake could play the IF passably they would have kept him there. They are well aware of the defensive spectrum

  • JeffR

    Renteria’s positivity will probably be enough that even Brett Jackson will turn in to that players we all thought he could be a few years ago.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    First I am very pleased having Renteria as the new manager. At first he was just a name, but the more Learn, the more I like him. All this speculation about Junior Lake is interesting. The guy was hitting some where around .360 in winter ball. I have a feeling that Junior is one of those guys that the statisticians and metrics guys are going to hate. I think he will defy logic and prove the naysayers wrong. I see a young man that comes to play ball with intensity. Rough around the edges for sure. But I think that if given a chance he may put up some really nice numbers in 2014. If Rizzo and Castro bounce back and Lake surprises then it may not be as ugly as we think it may be.

    • Rebuilding

      “I have a feeling that Junior is one of those guys that the statisticians and metrics guys are going to hate.” – I keep seeing this , but I honestly don’t know what it means. Statisticians and metric guys are going to love any guy that produces runs at the plate and prevents them in the field. If he does those things then everyone will love him. People are just pointing out that it is very unlikely based on what we know so far

  • Ballgame

    Blackhawks1963, is that you David Crawford?? Sure sounds like it…

  • Justin

    Brett, you seem to be down on Lake’s offensive upside quite a bit. I know his minor league #’s aren’t great, but they’re not terrible either. To me he seems like one of those super athletic lanky guys who take a bit longer to put all the moving parts together, but once they do watch out. I know there’s a greater chance that he is not very good, but I think he could continue to grow at the plate a lot. And Vitters is almost worthless to me at this point, I like Lake way more now. i just can’t see Vitters being anything but awful in left field. Brett, what am I missing? I usually agree with your takes on stuff, and trying to figure out what I’m missing.

    • dAn

      I don’t think you can really separate Lake and Vitters THAT much. Other than Lake’s speed, both their skill sets and where they lie developmentally are nearly identical.

      They are both guys who will be 24 in 2014, who have hit well at the AAA level, who have had a few injuries over the last couple of years. They are both guys who have had very low walk rates until about a year ago, when they began to make modest progress. They are both guys who bat RH, who hit for decent average and have some pop without being significant HR hitters. They are both guys who have had to move to the OF because they just weren’t consistent enough as infielders. They both have good arms but very little experience in the OF.

      The only difference, other than Lake’s speed, is the fact that Vitters had a rough go in his first 90 or so MLB at bats–which is WAY too small of a sample size to make anything of. You can take most HOF caliber players and find a 90 AB stretch in which they were pretty bad–in many cases without even looking at their rookie years. Most likely, the timing of Vitters promotion simply coincided with him going into a slump. Those things happen.

      It’s way too early to write Vitters off, and I don’t know what you would even point to to justify that. Having said that, Vitters’ lack of defensive value hurts his chances to win a full time job on a team like the Cubs, whose FO values defense so much. Lake is toolsier defensively and arguably has a better work ethic (although that’s 90% speculation). But Vitters does hit LHP well, so it’s not hard to envision him winning increased playing time as the year goes on. And if the spike in his BB rate last year is for real, it’s quite possible that he could eventually become a productive full time MLB OFer down the road.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    The Cubs lineups being projected are not very impressive. The Cubs need to get an impact Vet. Choo, Castro, Bryant, Rizzo, Schierholtz, Olt, Alcantrara/Vitters/Lake, Castillo,

  • http://BN Sacko

    Why would they go after Choo for leadership when we have McDonald’s veterans ability?
    Good grief where does that guy fit in rebuilding. It doens’t appear Theo is going after anything like Choo, maybe a right handed stick in the OF that isn’t going to impress many.
    Everyone is talking Vitters here might as well give Jackson another look also. They won’t have much competition.

    • dAn

      Not everyone on the roster “fits in in the rebuilding.” Some are placeholders. McDonald is the backup plan for guys like Vitters. The Cubs have the need for a RH bat in the OF because Schierholtz really can’t hit LHP. McDonald can’t do much very well, but he does hit LHP well and plays adequate defense–so there is a role he can fill.

      Ideally, the Cubs would have three good, young, MLB-ready OFers, none of whom need to be platooned. But they’re a long way away from that, and until they have that, there will be room for placeholders, even un-exciting ones like McDonald.

  • dAn

    Lake has the necessary tools to be an excellent defensive CFer–the speed and arm. His arm will be wasted in LF. They ought to give him a shot at CF, but they may want to ease him into things–we’ll see. It was abundantly clear he wasn’t going to cut it in the infield, though.

    I think Lake will surprise some people in ’14 with his basestealing ability, especially if Renteria intends to make good on his comments about being aggressive on the bases. (There really aren’t a whole lot of other candidates in the Cub lineup to steal with, other than maybe Bogusevic if he’s playing.)

    It’s a popular sport to write off Lake, but he keeps taking steps forward year after year, and its really hard to distinguish his skill set from Soriano’s at roughly the same age. I don’t think he’ll be the player that Soriano has been, but a lot of people have prematurely counted him out from having a fruitful MLB career. And he does profile as a guy who could hit for power in his mid or late twenties. (I think Granderson had two HRs in his first pro season in MiLB; a lot of guys don’t really develop significant power until age 26-27 or so, and Lake is very strong physically and has shown the capacity to hit long HRs.)

    • cub2014

      I think both Lake & Castillo will
      show major improvement in HR
      numbers this upcoming year.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+