Jason McLeod Speaks: Tanaka, Baez, Bryant, Talent Acquisition, More

jason mcleod cubsAs is the case with the sometimes more visible Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, when VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod speaks at length on just about any topic, it’s worth attention. So it was this weekend when McLeod spoke to Bruce Levine and Ben Finfer on The Score. You can listen to the interview here, and you can see a full transcript at the CCO here.

If you’re just looking for the high points …

  • On possibly available 25-year-old Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka: McLeod said that, although he has not watched watched Tanaka in person, himself, he’s seen a lot of video and the Cubs have had a lot of guys see him in person. McLeod wouldn’t go into detail, obviously, but said that Tanaka is a very talented pitcher, though it would be unfair to expect him to come over and immediately have a Yu Darvish-type impact.
  • The plan remains for Javier Baez to start the year at Iowa, where he will be the regular shortstop. He may get some looks at second and third this Spring, though, just to see what’s what.
  • The focus, insofar as the talent acquisition part of The Plan goes, is to accumulate a tremendous volume of impact talent, not just depth. Although the system is still lacking in high-quality starting pitching at the upper levels of the minors, most organizations would say the same. Plus, McLeod believes we’ll start to see a lot of the impact they’ve acquired/drafted over the past two years emerging at AA this year. (Imagine the AA rotation, which could feature C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Ben Wells, Corey Black, Ivan Pineyro, Matt Loosen … a very talented group.)
  • It’s possible that the Cubs could bring up Kris Bryant and Javier Baez together at midseason if they’re still dominating in the minors, but it still depends on their development plan, the other options available, and whether the front office feels like it’s the best thing for them.
  • Although McLeod offers feedback on deals, for obvious reasons, he gave most of the credit to Pro Scouting Director Joe Bohringer and his staff.
  • McLeod says he hopes to be around long enough to see the Cubs win a couple World Series. The question, of course, was premised on the widely-believed notion that McLeod would be on a number of organization’s short list should a GM job open up.

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

182 responses to “Jason McLeod Speaks: Tanaka, Baez, Bryant, Talent Acquisition, More”

  1. Chef Brian

    Jason McLeod is the genius behind the Cubs Brain Trust. He is the Cub ‘s MVP IMO. When he talks people listen.

    1. Bea Arthur's Widower

      Brian is so right. I’ve been saying this for months. I posit he is more valuable than Hoyer and Rizzo. This guy is so smart and talented. I’d give him a bigger title and responsibility.

      There is no one in the front office outside Theo than Jason.

      Crane kenney might argue that he is worth more. But I’m completely serious on Jason.

      Well said Brain.

      1. SenorGato

        McLeod is doing the exact role he needs to do here, no need to promote him. He’s certainly not better than Hoyer, which is not a slight on McLeod. Hoyer’s a stud, which is how he got to be Epstein’s RH man in the first place.

    2. Dumpgobbler

      Everywhere he goes he seems to amass a bunch of talent. Cubs and Padres have been pretty bad, but the Red Sox always had a ton of young talent.

      1. Commander bob

        What mass of talent?

        The Padres blow lunch.

        1. gocatsgo2003

          Aside from Rizzo… Jedd Gyorko, Chase Headley, and (to a lesser-extent as they traded for him instead of drafting him) Cameron Maybin say “hello!”

          1. X The Cubs Fan

            And if you look in the minors Austin Hedges and Casey Kelly among others.

        2. Dumpgobbler

          The Padres are in a much better place then we are ATM. That’s just my opinion but that’s how I’d justify how Mcleod has amassed talent..

  2. Sacko

    “accumulated a tremendous volumn of impact players” Hendricks, Roberts, Kottaras, Ruggiano. Blow is out your…

    1. Rebuilding

      Considering he’s talking about minor leaguers maybe he should have said Almora, Soler, Bryant and Edwards.

    2. frank

      He was speaking in the context of the minor league system.

      1. Sacko

        BS impact players means now.

        1. BT

          That’s your definition.

        2. Chad

          Why would the Director of Scouting and Player Development be talking about acquiring talent on the ML squad? That’s Hoyer’s job. He is obviously talking about the minors.

          1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            I am guessing he is done posting after reading your comment Chad.

            1. Sacko

              keep reading

              1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                You should have stopped. I am sure you admitted your mistake by now? No?

        3. MichiganGoat

          I’m guessing you don’t really have a point here just want to stir up the comment… correct?

          1. THEOlogical

            Repeat this mantra MG. January 1st….January 1st….January 1st….it sometimes helps me.

            1. Jon

              I hate to break it to you, but even after an email reg is required, people are going to have opinions that conflict with yours, or that you may find “negative”.

              Might be a good time to just realize it is what it is and deal with it.

              1. Coop

                True, but the registration system will also give Brett a greater ability to eliminate the trolls, should he so choose.

        4. gocatsgo2003

          It also says “impact talent” (e.g. talented players but maybe not quite yet at the MLB-level) and not “impact players,” (e.g. at the MLB-level) so… there’s that.

    3. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      Reason #1 why Brett is implementing registering in the comment section. Congrats, you made his point.

      1. Sacko

        impact players in the minors impact the minors. register your own point.

        1. Rebuilding

          Amazingly ALL impact players in the majors were once impact players in the minors

          1. Sacko

            ALL thats means everyone in the minors impacted majors. Funny

            1. Chad

              No, no it doesn’t.

          2. Mike Feeney

            And amazing ALL players who play in the majors have an impact on the games they play in whether negative or positive. “Impact Player” is one of my least favourite sports cliche terms.

            I know what people mean when they say it. I just wish there was a better term.

            1. Sacko


        2. Sacko

          somebody registering a name like tgobj belongs on a powder puff site.

          1. C. Steadman

            at least he contributes reasonable assessments

          2. Chef Brian

            Are you trying to say that Jason McLeod isn’t one of the best talent evaluators in baseball? I assume you are being a contrarian as Goat was saying and just trying to be irritating. You need to “keep reading” a few articles on Jason McLeod and the enormous amount of respect he garners around the league. For the record, you don’t get on GM short lists by being bad at your job.

            1. Sacko

              no I’m not

        3. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

          His job is to accumulate impact MiLB talent and through development turn them into MLB impact talent….not sure what you are missing. You are harping on the wrong guy in the organization.

          1. Sacko

            agreed however to state a minor league player will always impact the majors isn’t always the case. Should be an impact, sounds better to me.

            1. BT

              and as soon as anyone claims that minor league players will always impact the majors, you can go ahead and gripe away, but until then you are arguing with phantoms of your own creation.

              1. Sacko

                Tanaka isn’t going to the minors.

                1. BT

                  Are you randomly replying to messages, or is there some relevance to my actual point you are trying to make?

            2. ClevelandCubsFan

              We all KNOW what McLeod meant. Maybe you don’t like what he meant. Fine. We can have reasonable and intelligent discussion about that. But you’re just being…. well… let’s be polite and say a contrarian. And that kinda sucks.

              1. Sacko

                with a name like Cleveland you mean nothing to me

      2. AL

        Registiring has now merit on diminishing comments that the softies find offensive. All it does is give the moderator Executive power in banning who he so deems a negative presence. Pretty much a Dictator. I understand its use and can be necessary. But some of you are so soft minded and choose to let idiots “OFFEND”. Ignore the idiots and dont respond. Those of you who gripe about the “negative ppl” or enablers by responding to their junk. Banning the loonies will only have them reregister and become a troll all over again. CBSSPORTS had the register system like most and still was unable to ban off entirely the idiots who would just register with new IP addresses and handle names. This site is far from being corrupted with dumb trolls. But whatever you softies say. Eventually the page background should be rainbows and carebears with marshmallow clouds!

        1. AL

          excuse my typos….

          1. cub2014

            Give me a break, comments against the FO
            or the owner and their decisions are what this
            blog needs for balance.

            But what is not needed is people who get on
            and argue a ridiculous point or just are negative
            to generate argumentative comments.

            This is has been a great sight and lets keep it that way.

            1. Tom Kat

              Not everyone is going to be as well versed in the game or have the know how to keep their emotions in check during a discussion. Let them argue a ridiculous point or be negative. People view things from different angles. As long as people are not going out of their way to be abusive, let them talk, you can always skip over their comments.

              Now Al did descend a little bit into hyberbole, but that stuff has happened on other sites. Thankfully, Brett, based on what I have seen and how he handled situations, will likely not be a dictator.

              Until now, I have never commented. I’ve always been a more casual observer of sports, but the comment sections have opened my eyes to the appreciation of advanced stats. I just wanted to issue a thank you to my favorite site and the denizens therein for some entertaining reads.

        2. Greenroom

          So being a dictator can be useful and necessary? I think the majority of the people on here just want a decent forum to have a conversation. There are several people who just rinse and repeat the same comments over and over and only differ in the combination of the order in their sentences. No one is ever going to be completely right/wrong, but to moderate some of the one time “trolls” even if they do re-register is worth it. I have never seen this forum “rainbows, care bears, etc” ever. But you can be-little the posters on here as some sort of “feel good” only dialogue, but that would be far from the truth.

        3. Jon

          I think people are being a little unfair to Brett. If you have a negative opinion, but are willing to hash your opinion out with a reasonable argument, there is no reason why Brett will silence you.

          I also think some people, that can’t handle a differentiating opinion, or a negative one are in for a unpleasant surprise when these people continue to post after January 1st. My advice to you, deal with other peoples opinions.

        4. Blublud

          You can follow the rules and stay, or you can not follow the rules and leave. I come here everyday, even if I don’t post, so I am far from a driveby troll. But I have said things here I probably shouldn’t have said. If I get banned, it’ll be bacause of me. Brett is not in the business of banning people who disagree. That wouldn’t be good for business. But the driveby-ers……and the constant name changers who reply to their own post with a different name just to try to validate their point will fin d it just a bit harder to do this in the future. That just might be enough to keep them out.

          1. C. Steadman

            ah Blublud you wont get banned! you and Jon are two of my favorite posters bc you two post stuff against the grain and provide your reasoning behind those opinions, no matter how differing they are from my own

  3. Rebuilding

    For people who continue to say no Baez or Bryant this year this interview should lay that to rest. No full year in AAA, no 500 at bats at each level, etc talk… It’s basically, if they are hitting like they’ve always hit then they’ll be here by the AS break

    1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      I do think we need to temper expectations that both are going to dominate AAA to the degree that leads to a ASB call up. I fully expect them to struggle with more advanced pitching knowledge and off-speed stuff, at least for a time. The adjustment period is where the decision lies. If they adjust quickly and to the FOs liking they have a chance to see Chicago sometime next year other than a Sep call up.

      1. Rebuilding

        I think people will be surprised how little they struggle and how quickly they adjust. For me they are the best two bats in the minor leagues (not overall prospects because Buxton does everything well)

        1. Patrick W.

          I fully expect Javier Baez to make his debut July 18th. I EXPECT it!

      2. Blublud

        I disagree. I think AAA is a step down from AA in overall star talent. If Baez can handle AA, he can certainly handle AAA. As for Bryant, he has yet to break the threshold that is AA. I’m sure he’ll handle with no problem, even if he doesn’t put up Baez type numbers. I honestly don’t see either of these guys having ny extended struggling at any level in the minors as their bats are to good.

        1. C. Steadman

          especially in the slugging friendly Pacific Coast League…a full season there Baez could drop 35-40 HR, but i dont expect him to get a full season there bc he should be up

        2. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

          I agree to a point that AA is more talented than AAA, in a pure talent aspect. But AAA pitchers are usually more polished with being able to “pitch”(command of the zone) and off-speed stuff. Those are two things that could cause either of them to struggle at times. But it perfectly ok for them to struggle for a bit. It is all about the adjustment to the struggles.

    2. Ben

      Baez is Gasoline! He’ll be forcing the issue by the AS break.

      Castro is the big question mark. I think he is given every opportunity to succeed ( build up his value ) before AAA can no longer contain Baez.

      If Castro can build up his value and Baez is ready, I think Castro gets traded.

      1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

        Maybe it is pure hope but I think we will see Castro rebound this year. That might even make him more likely to be traded.

        1. hansman

          If Castro rebounds the odds of him being traded decrease. An above league-average bat at SS, combined with improving defense at the age of 23 is something you hang on to.

          1. Ben

            I disagree. I think Baez is our future at SS and Alcantara is in the discussion at 2B. Castro has his most value as a SS. If he rebounds, I think he is traded for max value.

            1. C. Steadman

              i dont think we can trade Castro unless Alcantara proves to be a fulltime starter at the bigs…we can’t trade Castro on the hope of Alcantara becoming more valuable…plus Alcantara could become an OF so we could actually keep all three

              1. Ben

                We have a half a season of stats to play out before this decision has to be made. Lots of moving pieces. Damn all this depth!

                1. C. Steadman

                  having depth makes for some good discussions here!

              2. Blublud

                I have still yet to see a legit report that Castro is on the block, so where is all this trade castro talk coming from. The guy is 24, and still a couple years removed from his prime. These are the type of players the FO are looking to acquire, not ship out the door.

                1. Ben

                  Speculation on my part. When looking at the big picture, I think Castro is odd man out. Good problem to have.

                  1. Blublud

                    Castro odd man out? HUH? We can keep Bryant and Baez in the IF and still not have to push Castro out. It’s really unrealistic to expect all these guys to come up and be any better than Castro that he can be labeled the odd man out. Baez and Bryant have star power, yes. the others, Alcantara, Villenueva, Olt, Watkins and whoever else can hope to be as successful as Castro has been over his 1st 4 seasons, but unlikely for either of them.

                2. ssckelley

                  Right now I don’t think Castro is on the trading block although I doubt the Cubs would turn away offers from another team. The Cubs were able to negotiate an extension that did not include a no trade clause so the possibility exists he can be easily moved.

                  But at this point in time with Castro coming off a season where he has struggled and there is not a player coming up through the system that he is blocking right now, I don’t think the Cubs are in any hurry to trade Castro. But that could easily change if Baez forces the issue by making it look easy in AAA.

                  1. Rich H

                    Castro has been called about to the point that Hoyer had to publicly say he was not availiable. So your theory from the very beginning is flawed.
                    I remember it was his presser at the winter meetings that he said it do not have a link.

            2. Chad

              I think it would depend on the return and if Alcantara can actually handle 2B. Those would be the defining factors for Castro, though I don’t see him getting traded no matter how his season goes.

              1. MattM

                Personally, I think that you keep Castro where he is and hope he does well! WHEN Baez comes up you move him to second base. I don’t know what everyone is saying about SS production being more valuable.

                if Baez hits .275 20hr and 80rbis in a full season at second he is EASILY a 4 WAR player. If he hits 30hrs at second with and .800+ OPS he turns into an 8 WAR player.

                Baez at 2nd becomes our most valualbe player easily! With his Gary Sheffield bat speed there is no reason to think he doesn’t put up 25+ a year at second.

                Look at Cano at second! He was an 8 WAR player with 30 and 100 in 2012. What kind of WAR does he get at second?

                I still say that Castro at 4 WAR at short which a normal season he can get and Baez at second with a 6-8 WAR number creates our BEST value, and most wins! Alcantara could NEVER produce 4+ WAR at 2nd or Short.

                If you are looking at it purely as wins then you keep Castro where he is and move Baez to 2nd. Baez becomes the MOST valuable player because he plays 2nd not short. Then you hope Olt/Bryant/Rizzo can live up somewhat to what they are billed at.

                With this situation I am not even worried about the outfield!

                1. MattM

                  Excuse me I meant what kind of WAR does Cano get at Short instead of 2nd.

                  Keep in mind that 2nd is less demanding than short as well, so it allows a guy like Cano or Baez to FOCUS more on offense where as worry about defense at short probably takes some of that away….

                  1. MattM

                    BTW I DEFINATELY DO NOT think you move Baez to 3rd. You actually lose value out of him at 3rd. If you get production like 30 and 100 out of your 2nd base then it opens a WORLD of possibilities elsewhere!

                    You really need just league average out of 1st and 3rd. Then you need at least ONE outfielder to give you above average offense and you are set.

                    Keep in mind that league average 1st and 3rd production is something like 20 and 80….. Any advance metrics you get out of that is a plus! Like if one of the 1st or 2nd basemen are high on base guys.

                    I’m serious look up some history, when you have massive production out of 2nd it actually masks issues that you have elsewhere. That massive production out of 2nd turns into just a little higher than average production out of 1st and 3rd.

                    Those teams that have average production at 1st 3rd and the outfield, but had massive production from 2nd and short make the play offs more often than not.

                2. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

                  If Baez and Castro are the MI combo, it doesn’t really matter where they are playing in terms of positional value. You get the same production from the MI. Now if we start talking about trading CAstro and having Baez at SS with Alcantara, that is a different story.

                  1. MattM

                    That was not my point. If they both are in the MI you are right.

                    People are saying Acantara should be the 2nd basemen. Now if you keep Castro move Baez to 3rd and have Alcantara at 2nd you actually lose value than if you have castro and baez MI then hopefully a league average rd basement like OLT or even Bryant putting up better than average numbers. Castro/Baez/Bryant or Olt is much more valuable than Castro/Alcatara/and Baez at third.

                    1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

                      we agree

      2. C. Steadman

        i’d love for those two to be the MIF of the future though…really hoping we hold onto Castro

      3. Blublud

        Honestly, I don’t think we make to the ASB before seeing Baez in Chicago. Castro is not going anywhere, and Rizzo is safe, but if Valbeuna/Barney/Olt/Watkins can’t hack it for the first month or two and Baez is crushing, then we may see him by the end of May.

      4. woody

        Castro’s performance will dictate where Baez plays. The unknown factor is how Olt performs. If Olt puts up good numbers the job may be his. Which means that Baez plays second and becomes the next Robinson Cano. In that case Alcantara is either traded of serves as a bench player. And of course Bryant to the outfield. If Castro struggles then they move him and Baez stays at short and Alcantara at second. If Olt struggles then I see Baez playing third. I doubt that Bryant gets the third base job ever. If Olt fails and Castro is traded then we might see Vilanueva come up. He is a true defensive type player with a good bat.

        1. Fishin Phil

          I’m looking forward to seeing Olt this spring. It will be interesting to see if the eye issue has been resolved, and if he can return to hitting the way he used to when he was a hot prospect.

          1. terencemann

            I’m worried about the reports about skill regression but the only thing that can give us any idea about where he is will be seeing him play baseball against decent competition again. Waiting is hard.

    3. BenRoethig

      The thing people forget is that while Baez is lighting it up as a hitter, he’s very raw in terms of his fielding. His errors were double what Castro last year in 40 fewer games. All signs point to him being a third basemen in the majors. I can see keeping him and Bryant in their comfort zones and focusing on hitting first, but before bringing him up, they need to teach him to play third base.

    4. ClevelandCubsFan

      That’s been the word fora long time. So I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it works out. But I do think these are general rules not absolutes. If either comes up early my money is on Bryant for his age and experience.

  4. ssckelley

    Reading this makes gets me giddy for spring training for some reason. I have visions dancing in my head of a spring training infield that has Bryant (3rd), Castro (SS or 2nd), Baez (SS or 2nd), and Rizzo (1st). Perhaps Soler, Almora, and Lake all starting in the outfield with Pierce Johnson on the mound?

    1. Jono

      what’s the countdown at now? I was going to start one a little while ago when brett first mentioned it, but of course it was at 69 days. Not to sound immature, but I didn’t want to make my firs facebook countdown post at 69. And of course I forgot to start it the next day at 68, so I’m just lost now.

      1. ClevelandCubsFan

        Not announced yet. Unless you are counting to game day.

  5. Blackhawks1963

    I’m not expecting either Baez, Bryant or Alcantara in 2014. Maybe they each become September call ups and each are in a position to compete for starting jobs in 2015. I would expect to see a taste of Vizcaino and Hendricks. The other top prospects are all further down the road.

    1. Blublud

      Baez will not make it more then a couple months into the season, Alcantara will be at least a september call-up. I honestly expect to see Baez, Alcantara, Hendricks, Loosen, Bryant, Szczur and Ha all at points throughout the year and in September at the latest.

    2. Napercal

      How do you think the Cubs front office will balance the need to generate excitement by getting Baez and Bryant to the majors vs. the desire to push arbitration eligibility as far into the future as possible? This is a serious question. Personally, if they are ready, I would like to get them here sooner rather than later, but it will have payroll implications down the road.

      1. Jon

        They won’t factor “fan excitement” at all. These 4-5 prospects are all they have. If they ruin them by “rushing” them then the entire plan is gone.

        1. Napercal

          The assumption I made but failed to express was that they both produced as they have in the past at AA and AAA. I do not believe in rushing young players to the majors. However, both Bryant and Baez have performed at a very high level at each stop. It is conceivable that by mid-season, both of them will have shown that there is nothing to be gained by more minor league games. What will the FO do?

      2. Blublud

        More times then not, if a player is ready, a move will be made to get them to the show. Either by trading the prospect, or by trading the player blocking his position, or by changing the prospect position. Team will play with the call-ups to gain extra control, but most of that done within the course of one season. In other words, if Baez is ready in April, he is still going down for service time issues. However, if he is ready in April, the Cubs will not keep him in AAA all year, just because they are not going to be competitive this year. Competitiveness may be the difference in him breaking camp in April instead of being called up in july, and the reverse effect with the lack of competitiveness, but it will never go over the course of seasons. As for fan involvement. The oners tend to make more decision based on fan reaction than the baseball guys.

        1. Napercal

          My fear is that ownership will delay calling them up at any time this season even if the players demonstrate that they are ready. I am greatly concerned that ownership , not the FO, is driven solely by the bottom line. Does anyone else share that concern?

      3. terencemann

        I don’t think you want Baez to see anything less than a couple or 3 months in AAA so I don’t think Super 2 questions will be an issue.

    3. woody

      Believe me the way attendance is tanking we will see them. Those two guys will sell some tickets for sure.

  6. Tom

    However long it takes for the farm system to develop a pipeline of young talent and business side to sync, it has to be encouraging reading comments like those of the Diamondbacks GM in defense of trading for Trumbo. He mentioned there is a shortage of power in free agency and the game as a whole, as offense is in decline. Kudos to the commentors who mentioned beforehand a few months back citing no mere coincidence that the Cubs are loaded with young positional players with tons of raw power, certainly some that will be packaged for pitching just as the Angels did recently.

  7. JM

    Good to hear. I’m ready to see some of these players we keep hearing about. Just hope the pressure and the hype aren’t too much for either.

  8. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Price Shark Tanaka EJax #5 looking at 65 mil for this group alone or 145 mil payroll.

  9. Cubbiecop

    I believe that Bryant would absolutely have to be destroying AA before he is called up. I can see Baez continuing his streak but i’m thinking Bryant may hit a snag here and there because he has not faced the same amount of talent that Baez has yet. Plus Baez had to make a few adjustments in AA and i’m expecting the same from Bryant. I’m not saying that he will not make it to the bigs but I don’t see them hitting MLB at the same time. Baez may make it this year but I don’t see Bryant hitting the major leagues until 2015.

  10. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Impact Players = Major league ready

    1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      Says who? You?

    2. E

      That is simply not true.

      1. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

        So, Bryant, Baez, Almora aren’t Impact players?

        1. E

          Of course they are. That doesn’t mean the are MLB-ready impact players.

    3. gocatsgo2003

      It says “impact talent,” not “impact players.”

      1. Sacko

        That does make a diffence does’t it. My bad.

        1. gocatsgo2003

          Yes it does. “Impact talent” refers to high-ceiling players who may not be ready for MLB while “impact players” refers to those who are MLB-ready.

  11. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    As far as low expectation prospects I would put Soler at the top along with Olt Vitters Vogelbach can we get a top arm for this group

    1. Cubbiecop

      I would like to hang on to Soler and Olt for a bit longer, I think Soler may break out this year. Vogelbach, brett jackson and Vitters all could be traded and it would not hurt my feelings.

      1. Jono

        i remember spring training earlier this year when a lot of people thought soler had become their best prospect. Things can change fairly quickly.

      2. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

        Soler is starting to look like a accident waiting to happen. Injury proned/plaqued.

        1. Jon

          plus character concerns, to boot.

          1. Blublud

            what character issues are you speaking of. Please do explain.

            1. Jon

              You are well aware he went crazy on opposing player and chased him with a baseball bat, right?

              He was also benched during the season for lack of hustle.

              1. gocatsgo2003

                And the Cubs appear very satisfied that the bat incident was sufficiently taken care of in-house and the stress fracture in the shin that went undiagnosed for a while sure seems to explain much of the “lack of hustle,” no?

                1. Jon

                  We hope the bat incident is a thing of the past, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it “happened”. Soler is not the first foreign born player in the minor leagues so it doesn’t excuse this behavior and I can’t remember the last time, a player used a bat as a weapon and chased an opponent. It’s still something to keep an eye on.

                  As for the lack of hustle, I’m not referring to the AFL, he was benched “in season” for this.

                  1. Blublud

                    Bench for this, yes. And after said benching, it was determined that he had been the whole season with a stress fracture in his leg. The fact that he played through the pain, without complaining, or mking excuses, says more about his character then his benching.

                2. Commander bob


              2. Blublud

                The first one, I don’t see as a charater issue. If it was me, and that guy said what he said about Soler’s mom and family to me, I would have tried to rip his head off of his neck. As a 19-20 year old being benched for not hustling or focusing all the time, I bet that has never happened before in the history of baseball(sarcastic face on). It’s call growth and maturity. When the guy starts flunking drug test, raping or abusing women, cursing out teammates, ect. then we will be able to say he has charater issues.

                1. Jon

                  “f it was me, and that guy said what he said about Soler’s mom and family to me, I would have tried to rip his head off of his neck.”

                  WTF, is this junior high? That’s not an excuse.

                  1. Blublud

                    Call it what you want. You don’t know every person’s story and struggle. You don’t know what can be said to push someone over the edge. We all having our breaking point. Also, there is a difference in a “yo mama” joke, and a specific, very personal reference about your mom or a family member. Until you know Soler’s story, don’t judge him over one incedent. Even the court of law takes into account the situation and enviroment that could lead to a person commiting an act of violence.

                    1. Jon

                      You are correct, nobody knows what was said to Soler. It might have been a direct attack on his family, it might have been a silly but still inappropriate “yo mamma” joke, or it could have been nothing at all that Soler just overreacted to.

                      What we do know is that he chased a player with a “weapon”. Make any excuse for it in the book, but that is unacceptable.

                    2. cubsfan08

                      It’s all relative – pretty sure nobody has said Tiger’s ex-wife had any character issues after their incident!

                      But yes, the incident means his character is now on everyone’s radar, but making a decision either way based off that one instance would be totally unfair.

                    3. Blublud

                      I don’t know. This happened in the state of Florida. It appears to be ok to chase people with weapons down there. Just ask Goerge Zimmerman.

                2. jh03

                  I agree with Blu here. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to lable Soler with character issues.

                3. Commander bob

                  you wouldnt have done anything, tough guy.

              3. Napercal

                He was playing with a broken leg. I tried to play golf with a sore back a few times. Not good. I imagine that trying to play baseball with an misdiagnosed broken leg could cause someone to move somewhat gingerly.

          2. gocatsgo2003

            Because of the bat incident? Seems like the Cubs have chalked that one up to a young, competitive kid trying to adjust to life in the States.

            If you’re referring to the hustle questions, the news that the Cubs directed him not to run out ground balls to keep his stress fractured-shin as healthy as possible seem to fly in the face of your assertion.

            1. dw8

              Soler is owed 21 million dollars. That’s a big risk to take on in a trade, especially since he hasn’t played above A+.

              1. Blublud

                Is Daytone not A+. I don’t think he’ll see A+ again, short of a rehab stint.

                1. Blublud

                  Sorry. I didn’t see the above part. :)

            2. Commander bob

              and hat was your daily diatribe from Excuse Central.

          3. BT

            I know Puig’s actual arrest last year has the Dodgers very concerned about his character. Or not.

          4. Jono

            The character thing might be something to keep an eye. It’s not worrying me, though. He’s young. Most young guys have character issues. I used to do things at his age that I would never do now (and i’m still in my 20s)

  12. Jon

    “The focus, insofar as the talent acquisition part of The Plan goes, is to accumulate a tremendous volume of impact talent, not just depth”

    Well, considering there not doing anything else(aka trying to be competitive at the big league level), this better bet the plan.

  13. waffle

    seeing some of the minor league talent make the bigs would REALLY help folks general optimism and enthusiasm

  14. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    In order for a player to be an “Impact”, he would have to be better than what he is replacing.

  15. Cubman

    Things could get complicated, such as, all other things being equal, if Bryant is killing AA does he go up to AAA or MLB? I say it depends on what Olt is doing and Villanueva. If he goes to AAA and Villanueva is doing well, does he go to OF or does he bump Villanueva? He probably stays at 3B at AAA or even goes to MLB if Olt is not doing anything.

    1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      Bryant doesn’t move positions in the minors unless they know he is playing OF in Chicago. None of the players you mentioned are a factor in what happens to Bryant in the minors. He bumps any of those names if it comes to that.

    2. ssckelley

      This is a nice problem to have at a premium position.

    3. willis

      If Bryant knocks the AA competition around, I think he skips AAA althogether. I have faith that both guys will have damn good seasons and we’ll see them at some point. Will be interesting to see the roster shuffling.

      As an aside, the AAA team should have just a tremendous lineup. AA should too. AA’s rotation will be fun to watch as well.

  16. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    AA vs AAA I would think a AA fielder has more balls in play than AAA. AAA is a popular money making enterprise so they keep the talent manageable.

  17. Cubman

    I think Bryant only bumps Olt if Olt is doing crappy. At AS break if Olt is hitting .260 with 15 hrs, Bryant isn’t bumping him. In addition, Olt is a much better defensive player.

    1. Chad

      If this happens and Olt can handle 3B, that is the best thing that can happen for the cubs. Bryant could move to the OF and Olt could remain at 3B. Baez could man second. If that all comes to fruition I think Alcantara would be a potential trade candidate. Assuming everyone pans out. Again that is the best the cubs could hope for, but it is doubtful that it plays out that way.

      1. willis

        Yeah, it would be absolutely a great thing. But, although I think Olt can’t get any worse than he’s been, I don’t think he has that type of success this season.

        1. Chad

          I hope he can, but I’m an eternal optimist for the cubs players. Like I said that woudl be best case scenario.

  18. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    There are P that become OF, C that become 1b, SS that become 2b/3b and 3b that become 1b/OF. Olt being the better fielder projects better in LF.

    1. Chad

      What? Why? If he is the better fielding 3B, why would you move him to OF so Bryant could play 3B? (Assuming his offense is adequate, not necessarily great, but adequate)

      1. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

        A better fielder would transition to a new position better. So, Bryant and Olt in the same line up would be better with Olt in OF.

        1. Chad

          I politely disagree. If Olt is a good 3B you do not move him to where he has never played. You move the lesser fielder and give him reps at his new position. You can not teach reactionary skills and hand eye coordination. If Olt is the better 3B, you leave him at 3B. The cubs did not move Barney to the OF so Lake could play 2B. They taught Lake to play the OF.

          1. Nick

            Yes, obviously. 3B is a far more challenging position than a corner OF. If Olt can play a premium 3B, then he should stay there as long as his bat is average and he stays in the majors. Bryant’s bat would play anywhere on the diamond and he should easily transition to OF.

    2. C. Steadman

      Olt does have some minor experience playing RF (3 G at AA and 2 at MLB, very minor but still experience)

  19. regimezefelerski

    Should be an interesting year. Maybe even a little exciting if some of the youngsters do come up and make a difference. Hurry Spring training!

  20. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Lest we forget Jeimer Candlerio? We have Olt, Bryant, Vitters, Andy Marte, Jeimer at 3b

    1. Danny Ballgame

      And Villanueva

    2. C. Steadman

      Dustin Geiger can play 3B as well, but has been playing 1B due to the abundance of 3B…probably bc he isnt as good defensively as Bryant and Ben Carhart(Daytonas 3B before Bryant) but Geiger does wield a lethal bat

    3. ssckelley

      I have not forgotten about Jeimer but he is much further a way from the big leagues than Villanueva, Bryant, and Olt. I can see Jeimer some day being a center piece of a deal that helps the Cubs land a veteran at a trade deadline. Hopefully, some of the Cubs top prospects that are now in the lower levels may reach the majors with a different team because they will be used as trade pieces.

  21. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    It is very possible Andy Marte age 30 gets a shot at 3rd.

  22. FarmerTanColin

    I personally didn’t think they would consider bringing up Baez or Bryant if the club was losing since it would be a lost year and they would start to accumulate service time. But if the Cubs do sell off some of their key players and attendance is dropping how better to combat that with the call up of a couple young studs? I know money doesn’t drive everything but it plays a part. They would have to be having good seasons but maybe not the Rizzo domiance type year when he was briefly at Iowa.

    1. ssckelley

      See I am the opposite, I would rather see the Cubs bring up Baez and Bryant (and any other prospects that are ready) during a season that was a “lost year” rather than break in rookies when you are trying to win championships.

      The question is when do they bring them up? The Cubs only lose a year of control if they break camp with either of them on the roster which does not seem likely if the Cubs are not going for it. How I understand it is if the Cubs bring them up in May then they qualify as “super 2″ status which means they might cost more during arbitration. If they wait until July then they avoid “super 2″.

      1. Blublud

        It’s actually not a time period. If the Cubs wait, I believe, ten days, they gain extra control for a year, but that player will more than likely be a super 2 and be able to recieve arbitration after 2 full seasons and not three. The rookie season wouldn’t count as a full season because they waited the 10 days. They will still have 6= years of control, but the player will have 4 arbitration years. I believe the super 2 is granted to the upper 20% of players with at least 2 full seasons, but not 3. If a player avoids super 2, the team still gets 6+ years of control, but the player will only get 3 arbitration years, as they will not be eligible until they have 3 full seasons of service time. This makes the player cheaper over the life of their team controlled contracts.

        1. Blublud

          6= should have been 6+

          1. FarmerTanColin

            I think its top 22% but very close. In the big picture that savings is essentially the difference of the 500k that would be the normal 3 third year pay and the 6th year arbitration pay, since that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t a super two. So 5-10 million? I’m ball parking

      2. FarmerTanColin

        From a fan aspect I would definitely like to see them break with the club. I’m picturing sort of what the Orioles did with Machado and Red Sox did with Bogaerts(z?) where they were brought up late in the season because they were contending. Now thinking about it the chances the Cubs compete are much lower than than those squads obviously.

        Another interesting point though. If they do come up in this lost season and play well..that should tell the front office that they are ready to compete finally. That makes them coming up in July very plausable if they are hitting well. Damn I want this season to get here already!

        1. ssckelley

          The fan in me wishes the could break camp with the team also but unless the Cubs are going for it I think it is a waste of a year of control to bring them up right away.

          But I agree, if they come up and play well next season I think the Cubs have to move the time table up a year and look to win in 2015.

    2. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      At some point they have to get their MLB experience. MLB service time will play a minor role (in that they won’t be up before the ASB) but if they do what the FO wants they will see the majors in ’14. Perfect scenario is they come up 2nd half show they can stay and the FO has a good idea of what it has going into the off-season.

  23. Cusifer

    I’m glad Brett clarified that the last answer was in the context of McLeod being swept up by another ball club. My instinctually reaction to that statement was that he was hopeful he’d actually live to see the Cubs win a World Series.

  24. Blackhawks1963

    I don’t think Theo, Jed and Jason are going to rush any of the major prospects. Hence why I think Baez doesn’t arrive until September. And Bryant and Alcantara don’t arrive until sometime in 2015.

    The thing to keep in mind with Baez is that if he’s going down to Des Moines to play shortstop then that almost ensures he won’t be called up before September. Not unless Castro gets hurt or is traded. The Cubs aren’t going to have Baez learn a brand new position at the major league level.

    1. FarmerTanColin

      In that instance *if* later on in the season they start putting him at third base or second then the callup is pretty much imminent. If they know he’s not getting called up for a long time then strictly playing short makes sense. The learning curve doesn’t seem to be very steep for a shortstop to move to another position as well. Machado took to third and Barney became the best defensive second basemen in baseball for example. They were both more defensively polished, no argue to that but point being maybe you dont need much time at third or second. …end ramble.

    2. C. Steadman

      but Baez has never spent a full season at any level…its been half a year and then promotion bc he dominated that level both in 2012 and 2013…with the FO stated that Baez will start at AAA and given their current promotion strategy for him, if he is crushing AAA in June or July we see him in Chicago

  25. Sacko

    If Baez hits and comes up he will not move Castro the same season. Way more room at 2nd, he could also get some priority at 3rd over Alt. And Lake went to the OF so I guess thats possible also.

  26. Funn Dave

    “Tanaka is a very talented pitcher, though it would be unfair to expect him to come over and immediately have a Yu Darvish-type impact.”

    Perfectly fine with me if Tanaka takes a year or even two to fully adjust to the new league.

    1. ClevelandCubsFan

      Translation… You other clubswould be wise to not put too much money on Tanaka. Your money would be better spent trying to sign Jeff Smardzjia to an extension.

      1. Funn Dave

        Ahh. He’s a crafty one, that McLeod.

  27. Funn Dave

    Hey, I don’t know if you guys got the memo, but Brett wants us to completely ignore the substance of McLeod’s words and instead focus on the definition of the word “impact.”

    Oh wait, nevermind; you guys are way ahead of me.

  28. Edward

    Christmas wish list:

    - Javy Baez’s torrid spring training continues into AAA. He is called up in early June and wins NL rookie of the year, narrowly edging out teammate Masahiro Tanaka.

    - Starlin Castro, moving to second base to make room for Baez, gets back to what he does best and is near the NL leaders in hits and runs.

    - Kris Bryant can’t be contained in the minors for long and slugs fifteen homers after an August call up.

    - Jorge Soler and Albert Almora finally put together complete professional seasons and are dominating AA ball by season’s end.

    - Anthony Rizzo has by far his best season to date, and finishes in the top 10 of MVP voting.

    - Cubs make an improbable late season push for a Wild Card spot. Jeff Samardzija tosses a one hit complete game shut out over Cincinnati in the play in game.

    - Cubs set their new single season record for attendance and enter the 2015 season as favorites to win the World Series. With increased revenue, payroll is dramatically increased. Baez and Bryant sign identical 8 year $70 million contracts, ensuring their presence at Wrigley through their prime years.

    It’s possible, right?

    1. C. Steadman

      hope you are only the nice list and get those from Santa! i would love that

    2. C. Steadman

      c’mon you got to be realistic here…itd be a one hit shutout of Pittsburgh not Cincinnati… :P

  29. Sacko

    Making the statement on the possible bring up Baez and Bryant sounds pretty exciting considering they aren’t doing much otherwise. I wouldn’t count on them coming up real soon. They just signed alot of infielders. To do that and plan on bringing them up. No don’t see it.

  30. Mrs. Howell

    When I read all this talk of moving chess pieces, I wonder why Rizzo never gets mentioned.

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