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mike olt iowaWanted: Zero degrees shoveler of densely-packed driveway snow. Payment: Frostbite, back aches, and possible heart attack. Apply within. No qualifications.

  • Can you remember someone as wild cardy in recent memory than Mike Olt heading into 2014? The thoughts on him from Cubs fans range from “above average starter at third base this year” to “is he still in the organization?” You know the story: Olt, 25, rose to elite prospect status with a dominant 2012 season in the Rangers system, and looked to be a future offensive threat and great glove at third base. He was beaned playing winter ball after the season, and thereafter suffered vision issues that may or may not have been related to the beaning. Those vision issues crushed his 2013 season, so much so that he was included in a deal to the Cubs for a couple months of a Matt Garza (a deal that already included three nice pieces in C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez). He received prescription eye drops that helped, but were not considered a long-term solution. All in all, it was an awful year for Olt, and no one seems to be sure what’s going to happen with him going forward. At last check – several months ago – Olt was working in Arizona, and there were suggestions that he felt his eye issue was in the past.
  • That entire Bullet was a preamble to someone asking Jonathan Mayo what to expect from Olt next year, and Mayo sounds as uncertain as we all are. “Olt is one of the tougher prospects to figure out these days. Once a top Rangers prospect who looked like a power threat and a run producer at the hot corner, the wheels completely fell off in 2013. It started with vision issues, reportedly caused from getting hit while playing winter ball. Once that was corrected – and all reports say his vision is just fine – he never found his way back to where he was in 2012.” So, Mayo apparently has heard that Olt’s vision is now fine. Hopefully that’s accurate, and hopefully Olt has rested this offseason, forgotten all about his miserable year, and hits the ground running in 2014, right where he left off in 2012. If that happens, the Cubs could suddenly have a nice, regular third base option to hold down the fort until the Bryant/Baez/Castro dam threatens to burst.
  • (Throw in the theoretical desire to give Christian Villanueva the regular third base starts at AAA Iowa, and there’s another tricky wrinkle to the Olt story.)
  • As of last check on the publicly-available Hall of Fame ballots, Greg Maddux was still pulling in votes on 100% of the ballots. Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are above 90%, and Craig Biggio is above 80%. The next highest are actually Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.
  • Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Jay Jaffe looks at the most overlooked players at each position when it comes to enshrinement (i.e., guys who were at one time eligible, but have fallen off the ballot). Kenny Lofton is the center field representative, though Jaffe concedes that the JAWS system would have Lofton just shy of Hall-worthiness. Lofton was eligible for the first time last year, but didn’t receive the requisite 5% of the vote to stay on. Lofton is best remembered by Cubs fans for his 56 games in Chicago – seriously, that was it – during the stretch run in 2003. His .327/.381/.471 line out of the leadoff spot help push the Cubs to the playoffs after he was picked up, together with Aramis Ramirez, from the Pirates. Even at 40 years old, Lofton put up a .296/.367/.414 line – dude could just get on base.
  • Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus, has been promoted by the Astros to Director of Professional Scouting after being snagged by the organization a year and a half ago. It’s another impressive plaudit in Goldstein’s impressive fedora. Good on him.
  • Kyle

    Mayo seems to be indicating that Olt’s vision *was* just fine when he was still playing and sucking. That doesn’t make me feel better.

    I’m 95% sure he’s toast. No reason not to keep him around just in case, but I expect nothing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not sure that’s what Mayo meant, since we know that the vision problems popped back up in August – the final month of the season – per the linked piece in the preamble (which came from Olt, himself). If Olt’s eye issues are fixed, that could have occurred only after the season.

      • CubFan Paul

        “If Olt’s eye issues are fixed, that could have occurred only after the season”

        I got the impression that Olt/Cubs was waiting til after the season to do the more invasive medical procedures (tear duct surgery). If so (very likely), he’ll definitely be ready to go come Spring.

      • cubzfan

        I’ll be a little less charitable, Brett. I think Mayo is just wrong here. He must not have heard that Olt had to stop using the drops after some weeks and they didn’t find another treatment until after the season. Olt wasn’t great while he was using the drops, but his final month was with continued vision problems.

      • Geech

        I read it the same way Kyle did. The line “Once that was corrected – and all reports say his vision is just fine – he never found his way back to where he was in 2012″ sure seems to suggest that Mayo believes his awful play cannot be fully attributed to his vision problems.

        • Rebuilding

          I think Mayo is conflating two different things. Olt’s tear ducts weren’t producing eye juice. He tried to see if eye drops would help hence the idea it might be fixed, but it was apparent that using eye drops alone didnt really help

          • Rebuilding

            To add to that – Not sure if any of you have had “dry eyes” but it is extremely uncomfortable and leads to you constantly rubbing which irritates them further. Eye drops give you momentary relief but its pretty miserable

    • snakdad

      Completely agree with Kyle. His eye problems sure didn’t look resolved as he was swinging and missing in AAA.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That’s not agreeing with Kyle. By Olt’s own admission, his eye issue was not fully corrected last season.

  • CubFanBob

    I would be curious to see the before / after stats on other MLB position players who suffered a concussion. Ive always liked Olt so here is to hoping he can move forward securing that 3rd base position for years to come.

  • BRIAN

    Trivial question to you Brett. With your role here, would it allow you to get press passes to games/events?

    Thanks for the great work!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Answers very carefully … I have never formally requested that kind of access. Only recently would I have even had the physical ability to cover games in that way (or the sizable readership to justify it), so it’s not like it’s something I’ve been actively pursuing for a very long time with no success or anything like that. That said, I have gotten the sense that the kind of access afforded traditional media outlets is not in the cards for me for the immediately foreseeable future. I will continue to do my best to cover things as well as I can, given those limitations. For example, yes, I would love to be in a position to be able to simply ask these kinds of questions about Olt. For now, I am not (but there’s no animosity coming from me). Hopefully there will continue to be steady progress in this area, and I have been very appreciative of the limited access I have received from the Cubs to date. The goal is to best serve the readers, and it’s a process.

      • http://www.dylanheuer.com Dylan

        If you’re ever in Des Moines, I could probably hook you up with the Iowa Cubs. I’m not making promises/saying it’ll happen but I absolutely will put in a good word for you. Then we’ll see how that goes from there.

        (Yes, I’m that photographer)

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    just testing my password!…

    I am hoping OLT plays real well !

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    not sure where my pic is ?

  • shaw2122

    I think of Sammy Sosa getting hit in the head by Soloman Torres and never being the same hitter with the Cubs after that. That is what reminds me of Mike Olt a little bit.

  • Greenroom

    I am going out on a limb. I think Olt is going to go back to his 2012 numbers. Maybe it’s all the Buddhism I have been reading lately, not that I’m a Buddhist. Sending positive energy to the Cubs and Olt. Ok, let me have it.Go Cubs-

  • CubFanBob

    Bill James 2014 predictions agrees

    Name Age PA* 2B 3B HR BB%* K%* Avg OBP Slg wOBA*
    Mike Olt 25 551 25 1 24 12.0% 28.7% .225 .318 .429 0.327

    • Greenroom

      I will take that all day. James always seems a bit “high” with his projections. Thanks for the information

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      If Bill James is a little high I’ll still take it. If you pair that with some regression from the rest of the infield we could make some serious noise.

      • dunston donuts

        I don’t think the FO is expecting a regression from the rest of the infield. I think the FO is expecting the hiring of Rick Renteria to help the infield take the next step in their development. If Rizzo and Castro regress again the FO will have some serious problems to address. They have tied over a hundred million dollars into Rizzo and Castro.

        If Olt pans out the way James describes, and Rizzo and Castro bounce back the way the FO is expecting, the Cubs could start to make some noise next year.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Regression works both ways. In this case, the FO almost certainly IS expecting regression to work in the Cubs favor. It would be really difficult for Rizzo to have the same (very low) BABiP next year. Castro’s was not as appallingly low, but it was still lower than expected. (Part of Castro’s putative “decline” was due to overly high BABiP his first two years declining back to expected in his 3rd season.)

          Also, the “let’s look at a lot of pitches” experiment seems to be done. All this did was elevate Castro’s K-rate: even if he’d had the same slightly low BABiP, then his BA would have about 0.015 higher without those extra K’s.

          Thus, regression will provide bounce-back for these two even if their (other) core-numbers remain otherwise unchanged.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            It seemed to me that Rizzo was trying to pull the ball too much. With most teams playing the shift there were gaping holes in the left side of the field and he didn’t exploit that. I have seem him take the pitch the other way in the past and know he is perfectly capable of doing so. After the Soriano trade Rizzo didn’t see a lot of good pitches over the plate. They pitched him inside and outside. I hate to see a guy take that outside pitch and roll over on it and hit a weak ground ball to the strong side of the shift.

            • CubFan Paul

              “It seemed to me that Rizzo was trying to pull the ball too much…gaping holes in the left side of the field and he didn’t exploit that”

              That’s false and misleading.

              Hitting strikes that were on the outer/right side of the plate to LF was an emphasis last season that Rizzo tried to do all season.

              He didn’t excel at it, hence the low babip, but he should be a lot more comfortable/consistent doing it this year (along with hammering inside pitches to Sheffield)

              • http://bleachernation.com woody

                Again I don’t have video to back up my claim, but as memory serves me I remember Rizzo grounding out to first or second base a lot. And maybe a lot of those swinging strikes were intended to put the ball in play to the left side. I think you made my point for me as you said ” He didn’t excell at it” is an admission that hitting to the opposite field was a problem. And I stand by my opinion that there were gaping holes on the left side. With the shifts being employed by most teams it is not uncommon to see the third baseman playing in the short stop position. I think Rizzo was trying to jack the ball out too much rather than chocking up a bit on the bit on the bat hitting the pitch where it would play best. Just my opinion as you are welcome to yours.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The issue is not how often a guy grounds out: it’s how often he hits grounders. The proportion of grounders that get through fluctuates stochastically over time: batters themselves have little control over it. (A batter can aim for right field; he cannot aim for 1′ further away from the 2nd baseman.)

                  Here is the key. Rizzo didn’t hit significantly more grounders in 2013 than he did in 2012. Rizzo didn’t have significantly fewer “well-hit balls” than he did in 2012. What Rizzo had was far fewer “normally hit” balls fall in for singles.

                  Again, this is something that people have only recently begun to understand. For years, it was believed that there were “singles” hitters. However, a single isn’t a “true” outcome: it’s a possible outcome of a grounder, flyball or line drive. Most putative singles hitters really were guys who K’ed very infrequently: the proportion of batted balls that went through for singles was not high, the proportion of ABs that resulted in a batted ball instead of a K was high.

                  So, if Rizzo puts balls into play just like he did last year, then it is highly (highly!) improbable that he will end up with so few singles.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “What Rizzo had was far fewer “normally hit” balls fall in for singles”

                    That’s what I was saying in a round about way.

                    Go Colts.

                • baldtaxguy

                  There is a bit of a cluster of his outs to the right side of the infield. Probably nothing abnormal for a left handed slugger.

                  Use the drop down menu to see his hits – real nice distribution to all fields.

                  http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/player/anthony-rizzo/hitchart/1254792?q=anthony-rizzo

    • JadeBos

      Those would be welcome numbers. 20+HRs w750 OPS and good to great 3B play. More importantly it would also allow Valbuena to move to 2cnd and platoon Barney.

      People forget the Cubs got 30HR 750 OPS last year from Valbuena, Ransom, Murphy. What hurt was the black hole at 2cnd and Castro’s bad year.

      • When The Musics Over

        Second base and shortstop combined weren’t just a black hole offensively, they were dark matter.

    • cubslegends

      If olts average is going to be anywhere near .226 ship him off

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It’s his OBP and OPS that will be important. If we can get 0.750 OPS out of 3B, then the Cubs will be doing OK there.

    • Kyle

      Those projections are notoriously overoptimistic. They have almost our entire lineup as above-average, as well as most of our backups.

      • CubFanBob

        The Cubs backups were second best in all of MLB last year

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I have to wonder how much of the problem is mental? To get beaned like that can mess a guys head up (no pun intended). What I mean is that if the mind is still playing tricks and he is so to speak “gun shy” from the trauma this could explain it if his vision was actually OK last year. Considering the speed that a fastball comes at a person and all the complex functions that have to take place in a split second I think it could be possible.

    • rcleven

      Everyone has ignored the issue that he was beaned. No matter what the issue is with the eyes. It has to effect his play. It may be a concussion issue that takes to heal or you may be spot on of being “gun shy”. Only time will tell.

  • When The Musics Over

    I might be happy for Goldstein if he wasn’t so madly in love with himself.

  • Diehardthefirst

    New Years resolutions of the Cubs FO should include eliminating the word PROSPECT from the lexicon as this word means nothing past or future.. Raises false expectations harmful to player and fan– haven’t come up with alternative .. Maybe BN can have a contest with winner announced after 2014 playoffs and prize is 2 WS tkts —only if Cubs in WS of course

    • DocPeterWimsey

      As any other appropriate word would be a synonym of “prospect,” what would be the point?

      • Diehardthefirst

        That’s the point – need to eliminate the false hope associated with that or like adjectives- need to expand discussion beyond unknowns.. If someone had good season in high school college or minors this is no predictor of anything.. Need to focus on attitude- need to focus on mental toughness-need to measure willingness to do whatever it takes within the rules to succeed.. Stats over several years don’t show this– example-What in Castro’s stats show he has what it takes to come back? We want him to and I have predicted he will but I have nothing to back it up as I have seen no studies on him showing he has wherewithal to do so-

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          So instead of prospects we should just call everyone a “Dude”? That SS dude in Iowa is good? Bryant is a good dude?

          I’d be okay with that but there is only one dude and I’m not sure we can find enough rugs to tie all the minor league rooms together but we should try. Luke can just rank dudes and we could have great t-shirts.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Die Hard has a point here. Too many see “prospect” and read into it “sure fire, guaranteed, future Hall of Famer and certain to save the franchise from all that ails it.”

            And too many others see “prospect” and read into it “horrible waste of space and certain to fail just like every single every other player in the history of baseball stop wasting my time.”

            And neither of those are fair.

            Even worse, many fans see “prospect” and assume it means that all players with that label are essentially equal. Therefor, if Baez is a “prospect” then Vitters must be something lesser, or if Brett Jackson is a “prospect” then it just means that all “prospects” are going to struggle. That uniformity of interpretation is not fair either, but the word is used with so many loaded and loose definitions behind it that I can understand how that problem arises.

            I don’t even like the more mainstream, rational approach to split minor league players into “prospects” and “non-prospects” (and, in fact, that is something I have not done and have no plans to start doing).

            For me, the best approach is to define prospect as simply as possible and stick to that definition regardless of who all tries to force their own interpretation of that word onto my work. A prospect is a player who is in the minors and who has a chance to make the majors leagues in some capacity.

            I then use as many other words as I need to add the degrees, colorations, shadings, and other refinements to the highly individualistic descriptions of each prospect, because all prospects are not in fact created equal.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Yes he does but any word we tag to players will be fluid and impossible to avoid the confusion we have with the term “prospect.” Give it any name and you will have top 1,5,10,25,50,100 lists all we can do is stay informed and understand that baseball “prospects” is a loose and rapidly fluid word. Even if we called them all dude we discuss which dude is better than the other and every team would have top dude list. So change the word but the same issue will exist.

              • DarthHater

                If we all just paid no attention to baseball, this problem of false hopes would be solved.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              heh, people just need to think in terms of probability. Top 20 prospect means “50% chance of some MLB success.” Top 21-40 means “30% chance of some MLB success” Top 40-100 means “20-25% chance of some MLB success.” Below that means “<<20% chance of some MLB success"

              The problem is that people want determinism. However, there is no determinism: everything is stochastic, and baseball is an archetype for stochasticity. (This is why statisticians love baseball: nearly all real-world statistical problems have analogies in baseball, and baseball examples are much more fun to use than the other ones are.)

          • hansman

            What about the women in baseball? Surely they wouldn’t want to be called ‘dude’.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          “Attitude” + $5 gets you a Starbucks. Even if it exists (and I doubt it), then it’s pointless to discuss because: 1) it’s obviously uncorrelated with success and 2) ask three people to guess somebody’s attitude and you’ll come away with 3 different answers most of the time.

          Baseball (like almost everything in life) is all about talent. The myth of the highly talented unmotivated athlete is just that: every putative example really is a case of an athlete who had one or more critical holes in his (or her) game that the “attitude” detractors don’t spot.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            “Baseball (like almost everything in life) is all about talent.”

            I’m not sure I can quite go that far. There is some luck in there as well. There are cases of amazingly talented players who suffered major injuries that kept them from coming all the way back despite their work ethic and talent, for example.

            And I also suspect that, if we could ever come up with a metric for evaluating player development systems objectively, we’d find that players who pass through a good system are more likely to produce to their talent than players who pass through a poor system.

            Or, to say it differently, a good chunk of the blame for the poor performance of the Cubs farm system for about a decade was due not just to the draft, but also to the lousy development operation. And, conversely, part of the success of the Cardinals is due to their development operation, not just to their draft.

            But in essence, yes, talent correlates so well with success that I suspect it would wash out pretty much any other variable.

            I also agree that attitude is a mythical creature, sort of like “clutch.”

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I accept that amendment! Yes, there is luck: all of Mark Prior’s talent (plus all the King’s horses and all the King’s men) couldn’t make up for injury.

              However, “talent” is the baseline around which our bell-curve of expectations. If we could get athletes to become good baseball players based on just attitude and work-ethic, then we should just sign decathlon competitors. The funny thing is, almost none of those Adonises would be able to recognize breaking balls from even college pitchers, or be able to throw pitches past college hitters. Those guys must be incredible athletes AND incredibly driven: but very few of them have baseball talents.

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            “‘Attitude’ + $5 gets you a Starbucks. Even if it exists (and I doubt it), then it’s pointless to discuss because: 1) it’s obviously uncorrelated with succes”

            This isn’t true. I have a hard time doubting attitude. I’ve seen it enhance or ruin talent in countless spheres of life. The reality (and the problem) is that attitude (and, more than we’d like to admit, talent) are immeasurable statistically to an outside observer. Further, it’s statistically impossible to isolate talent or “attitude” from one another. So appeals to attitude (e.g., TWTW) are usually foolish. It doesn’t mean attitude doesn’t exist or matter. It means we cannot say anything statistically significant about it and short of personally knowjng a guy (and other MLBers well enough to make a comparison) it’s usually not a productive conversation.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              “Attitude” is a post-hoc explanation that people put on to performance. All we see are very superficial reactions. You can interpret them however you like. A guy with a cool demeanor is “professional” and/or “intense,” or he is “indifferent” and/or “only worried about his paycheck.” A guy who gesticulates and shouts a lot is “fiery” and/or a “competitor” or he’s a “hot-head” and/or a “poor sport.”

              In nearly all cases, people can (and do) put in diametrically opposite “attitude” interpretations on to the same superficial behaviors. Moreover, the behaviors we use for interpretation usually come *after* performance. If anything, then it’s performance that generates behavior used to diagnose attitude, not attitude creating the performance. The supposed “horse” has 4 wheels and animals dragging it!

              At any rate, most of the cases of failures that casual fans attribute to “attitude” actually reflect the glaring absence of a key tool. Corey Patterson’s attitude had nothing to do with him not developing pitch recognition: the fact that this talent only very rarely improves in players did. Similarly, it doesn’t have much to do with recovering from injuries. Mark Prior’s attitude had nothing to do with him not healing from the damage done to his arm and shoulder in 2003: certain wounds never heal.

              That is why I keep dubbing “attitude” the phlogiston of sports!

  • waffle

    if Olt could have a bounce back/breakthrough kind of year boy would that help things out. It would be so nice to have a plus bat and plus glove over there. Spring training should tell us alot

    • When The Musics Over

      The Cubs have so many “ifs” right now in terms of 2014 and 2015 success.

      If Castro bounces back
      If Lake is for real
      If Rizzo bounces back
      If Olt bounces back
      If Shark takes another step forward
      If Wood isn’t sorta smoke and mirrors
      If Arrietta can harness his stuff
      If Baez continues to rake
      If Bryant continues to rake
      If Alcantara is for real

      And so on and so forth. You get it. It’s frustrating that the Cubs have so very few actual confirmed contributors. I’m not sure there’s more than 1-2 other teams (Houston) that have such a limited amount of known contributors on or near their major league roster. There’s still so much risk with this team beyond this year, it’s really nerve racking. Here’s to hoping that the Cubs front office has made the right bets.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, some of these have higher probabilities than others. Rizzo’s poor numbers reflected very low BABiP. It’s improbable that he’ll have such bad luck this year, so that is probable. Castro’s poor numbers reflected an experiment to see if just having a guy look at lots of pitches might help a player develop pitch recognition. The experiment is over. (If it can be done, then it takes more than 3-4 months).

        Shark taking a “step forward” probably is 50:50, at least in regards to performance. That is, I doubt he’ll actually be that much better than he was the last couple of years, but it’s always 50:50 that a guy will over (or under) perform on his baseline.

        I still don’t know if Wood is smoke and mirrors.

        Lake being “for real” is much less probable: he doesn’t have pitch recognition. Arietta does not really have a “harness his stuff” issue: he has spotty control, and that is not something that easily changes. (It does more often than, say, batting eye, but what doesn’t?)

        As for Baez, Bryant & Alcantara, I wouldn’t count on them meaning much to the MLB team this year.

        • When The Musics Over

          Agreed. The point of my exercise was that so many people are throwing around confident “ifs” like they were handing out Halloween candy, and that it’s sad overall how many “ifs” the Cubs have this year, and likely next year. This rebuild, at least how it’s gone thus far, feels like a giant roll of the dice.

          • Chiburgh

            When you are facing an organizational overhaul as the Cubs are currently, there will be a lot of “ifs” and heartache along the way.

  • Ill see you at Sluggers.

    I think we head into spring training with the assumption that Olt does NOT figure it out but if he does it’ll be a nice surprise. I also think its fair to be pretty excited and slightly more optimistic with our better prospects since we’ve spent the most time, money, and effort on them over spending on FA or whatever else. In other words, I’m expecting a couple all stars out of a group featuring Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora, Alcantara, Edwards, #4 2014 draft pick. Is that so much to ask for?

  • Geech

    I don’t think we’ll see a significant contribution from Olt at the big league level, but I hope I’m wrong.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I believe anything the Cubs get out of Olt is a bonus. I’m not expecting much and would be very surprised if he won a roster spot directly out of spring training. Maybe he can become a modest contributor or a stopgap later on in the season assuming he can reclaim his hitting ability at Iowa.

  • David

    Arrietta, Olt and Lake = key to the 1st half of the 2014 season. Whoever comes up in June or Sept = key to the 2nd half of 2014. (Mr Baez or Bryant perhaps?) Lots of keys/ lots of ifs.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Too many ifs. Way too much hope being placed on Lake. Right now the outfield shapes up to be very weak.

      I like Arrieta. Let’s see if he can find the elusive consistency that has plagued his career so far.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Not sure where you are seeing all this hope placed on Lake. The most optimistic assessment I’ve seen of Lake is Brett’s, and that is that Lake has a chance to be about average as an offensive center fielder with questions about his glove, but probably won’t hit enough to keep a job in the corners.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          When I see Lake he reminds me of Soriano in some ways. By that I mean his builld and speed are very similar. I am encouraged by his performance in winter league in the DR. I think in some respects Lake is more of a Castro type hitter (see ball, hit ball) where as Fonzie was more selective and could hit breaking balls quite well. With the coming seasons expectations set so low I don’t see excessive pressure being put on Lake. Basicly the three guys that regressed (Castro, Rizzo, Barney) are the ones under the most pressure. I like Lakes intensity a lot. When he come to the plate he is pumped. Also I read an interesting article pertaining to the demise of the defensive shifts. That the bunt would be the weapon that brings about that demise. With Lakes bunting skills and speed he is well positioned to exploit a defender playing far off the bag along either baseline.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          If he reads the comment threads here he might have read some unreasonable hope placed on Lake.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Arrietta is not inconsistent: he lacks control.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The problem is that if Olt doesn’t break camp with the big league club then he is essentially blocking Christian Villanueva’s progress through the system. Unless Olt is so bad that they give up on him. I really think the FO would like to see Villanueva at Iowa on opening day. I think it is a make it or break it situation for Olt. I f we doesn’t make the club out of ST then I think he will get maybe a couple of months at Iowa to turn it around or be released.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Well that would depend on which player they felt had the higher upside wouldn’t it? Right now I’m not sold on either player.

    • CubFan Paul

      “he is essentially blocking Christian Villanueva’s progress”

      Villanueva is not the prospect Olt still is.

      Olt is 5 star, Villanueva is a 3 or 4 star type prospect.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        My point was that if Olt doesn’t perform at a level sufficient to make the club during ST that he would essentially be hindering the progress of Villanueva. I stand by that comment. If Olt can’t make the cut I have to wonder how pacient the FO would be. For example Olt doesn’t make the cut and then flounders in AAA. That is a possibility. Obviously everyone is hoping he does good.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Villanueva will get his PAs regardless of where Olt is. That means that Olt will not affect Villanueva’s progress.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          The Cubs don’t need to keep Olt at third in Iowa. His glove is major league quality right now. All he needs is at bats, so finding room for Olt and Villanueva and Baez and Alcantara and Vitters should not be much of a problem.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I think that the mistaken belief is that if Olt doesn’t play 3rd consistently, then he’ll forget how to do it. History does not bear that out. (Indeed, we often forget that baseball players used to go 5+ months without doing any athletic activities at all, then came to ST to work off a winter’s worth of flab and picked up where they left off in September or October.)

            • Abe Froman

              Thanks Luke and Doc those are two well reasoned ways to look at what some think could be an I Cubs position jam, and not worry much about it.

      • Voice of Reason

        Cubfanpaul:

        Olt is not a five star prospect by any means.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Olt is not a five star prospect by any means”

          Got more than that?

    • Voice of Reason

      Woody:

      You’re off your rocker by saying the organization will release Olt if he ends up in triple a and struggles the first couple months of the season.

      That’s crazy thinking.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Depends on the struggles.

        If his eyes are completely healthy, but after 200 PAs or so he is still striking out at a 30%+ rate again, they very well might release him. At that point a good case can be made that he can’t make enough contact to compete at a high level and that his at bats would be better invested elsewhere. Releasing/waiving him might be the best thing for all parties involved.

        I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but it isn’t impossible.

  • BenRoethig

    Getting Olt always puzzled me considering the log jam at 3rd. Timetables allowed basically no time to for him to get over his eye issues with Bryant fast tracked and Christian Villanueva looking to move up. He basically has to make the Cubs out of spring training as the starting third baseman or there’s no where for him to go unless they see a future in the outfield. You want options, but you don’t want them so tightly together that you risk playing time. Of course, they could always split time between with the other DH-ing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Olt’s glove is not in question. He could spend time in Iowa playing first and DH without hurting his defensive status. His questions are all at the plate, not in the field. I think the Cubs can arrange that roster to find playing time for everyone likely to open the season there.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The other thing is that the Cubs don’t really have a logjam at 3rd. The Nats might have a logjam at 3rd: they have one good one (Zimmerman) there and another potentially good one (Rendon) playing 2nd in the interim. The Pads might have a logjam at 3rd: they have a good one (Headley) there and another potentially good one (Gyorko) playing 2nd in the interim.

      The Cubs have several minor leaguers who could end up there. However, baseball is a great case of “r-selection”: most of the prospects are going to fail (even 50% of Top 10 prospects fail, and the frequency increases steadily after that). That means that adding another prospect decreases the probability of ALL the prospect failing (which is the single most probable outcome) substantially.

      • BABIP

        Yep, that’s why minor league depth is so important. You can’t just pencil in the 2015 lineup and then trade away or not acquire any player who may seem a tiny bit redundant in the system.

        Stockpiling a depth of talent is totally what our FO is building, and it is awesome to see. It will only continue next year with the number four pick in the draft and everything that goes along with that (slot money, later rounds, etc) and our huge class of international free agents starting their professional careers.

        The farm system thing is very important, and easy to overlook as fans (obviously not all of us) since you don’t reap the rewards right away. Every player that can come up and play a roll or be traded for a useful player is huge, because every spot on the roster that can be filled from within is much cheaper than having to sign free agents in those spots. That also means that there is more flexibility to possibly add a free agent in another spot through free agency if that is needed.

      • Jason P

        ” most of the prospects are going to fail (even 50% of Top 10 prospects fail, and the frequency increases steadily after that)” — that’s slightly misleading. Historically, it’s more like “35% become stars, 35% become average-ish everyday player, 15% become role players, and 15% flame out of the league”

  • http://BN Sacko

    My thoughts on someone being potentially a new starting 3rd baseman for the Cubs there would be more confirmation not only that is eye problems are over..but that he is also hitting the potential of a starting 3rd baseman. I haven’t heard that but certainly hope that becomes a reality. This would be a huge difference in this team.

  • JoeyCollins

    Every time i read the names involved in the Garza trade I can’t help but laugh. That was a ridiculous haul for a rental.

  • Ivy Walls

    My critical best guess is that Olt competes with Vitters for the final spot on the MLB roster during Spring Training. The spot is a 3B/1B/RF(RH OF’er) off the bench either 13th or 14th position player. The loser is traded or DFA’d in a late Spring trade. My guess is Olt is a throw-in flyer unless he has a monster spring. Cubs are not going to bring Villanueva up after Spring either. It appears that they are going with Valbuena at 2B against RHP and Barney against LHP with Murphy at 3B at least at the start of the season holding it down until Baez and Alcantara ascend. Depending on the speed of ascent Cubs have options to move Valbuena/Murphy around the diamond. What seems obvious to me is that they have groomed Vitters to be a 13th-14th player off the bench either create value for a trade or have some in game versatility.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Found this scouting guide article and it lists “makeup” as the tie breaker on draft day. http://baseballnewshound.com/?page_id=268 … Also this article explains how a player gains prospect status and why earns different levels of “prospect”

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Great article. Makeup is something that CAN be subjectively assessed if you’ve spent some time personally getting to know a guy and investigating him. Like what a professional scout might do. But it’s only a tie breaker because it’s impossible to put much confidence in a slippery category.

      As far as defining a prospect… I think you’re overthinking this. In the most basic sense, a prospect is a possibility, an opportunity, a non-0 probability. Just don’t put anything more into it than that and you’ll be fine!

      • Voice of Reason

        Clevelandcubfan,

        Time to stop dropping the blotter. You’re not making any sense.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          Care to elaborate?

          • CubFan Paul

            Being the “Voice of Reason” isn’t enough for you?

      • Scotti

        Theo and team spend an incredible amount of time looking into a prospect’s makeup (reportedly way more than others) and they talk about character to no end (Rizzo, Almora).

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’m not sure we can equate makeup with character or attitude.

          Also, while character and/or attitude is certainly something that you want to have in your farm system (things are easier if teams are constructed of quality people who tend to get along and don’t cause problems), character does not appear to correlate with major league success.

          Otherwise, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb would have had very short careers.

          • Scotti

            I’m not altogether sure where the difference is between makeup and character. They are synonymous. The Merriam-Webster for character is “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual” and for makeup it is “physical, mental, and moral constitution.” Splitting angels or dancing with hairs on a pin or something like that.

            Here’s McLeod on the draft process I was referencing (pre-2012 draft):

            One evaluation tool team president Theo Epstein and his new front-office crew brought to the Cubs’ scouting process is similar to one they brought to the managerial hiring process: a task-specific, rigorous interview designed to reveal such things as coachability, problem-solving ability and maybe even character traits. “It’s something Theo and I started doing back in Boston seven years ago,’’ Jason McLeod said, “where either we went to see the player ourselves and meet with them or we brought him into Boston, and now Chicago, to ask some very pointed questions.’’ McLeod anticipated about 40 prospects going through that with the Cubs before the draft. “There are certain things that we like to see answered, and I think we structure the questions in a way that’s certainly not yes-no,’’ he said. “We want to get the players talking about themselves and their experiences.’’

            http://www.suntimes.com/sports/12898431-419/cubs-holding-on-to-promise-of-amateur-draft.html

          • Jason P

            Makeup and character are for the most part used interchangeably. The former is a measurement of the latter. From Minor League Ball:

            “…one of the key factors that teams must assess for potential draftees is “makeup.” This is the essential baseball term for a player’s personality and character.”

            The issue with bringing makeup and personality into the equation is how to quantify them. It’s purely subjective. There isn’t a scientific way to try to correlate character and success.

            Then again, just because something isn’t quantifiable doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            All Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb’s success proves is that is isn’t *impossible* to succeed with poor makeup — not that there is no correlation. That’s like saying the success of Warren Spahn and Greg Maddux proves that K/9 does not correlate with MLB success.

  • JeffR

    Not that I’m stalking them or anything, but looks like a lot of prospects are heading back to arizona to workout tomorrow.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      A whole lot.

      And judging by their Twitter accounts, a lot of them are really looking forward to it.

      The Cubs have a very interesting dynamic in the minors right now. These guys don’t give two hoots for the curse or a hundred years or anything else. They know they are good, that their teammates are good, and that one day they’ll make the Cubs very good. I’m really not aware of anything else like it in the minors, not on this scale anyway.

      • JeffR

        Epstein talked about that recently in an interview on CSN. You can defiantly see what he is talking about. I can’t remember ever being this excited to follow the cubs minor league teams but there are so many interesting prospects, some that are obviously getting tons of attention and other who are not yet. There are going to be a lot of disappointments over the next few years, but it just seems like there is too much talent that is working hard for quite a few not to make it and make it in a big way.

  • baldtaxguy

    I am not counting on Olt, but at the same time, hoping for the best for him. Same with Vitters. This a critical year for both. of them.

  • mikelach13

    I am hopeful Olt can bounce back from the eye issues and take the 3B job in ST. If Olt can have a decent year, it creates a lot for flexibility for the Cubs when Baez, Bryant & Alcantara are ready to come up.

  • JeffR

    I agree with most people in that I don’t have super high (if any) expectations for Olt, but we can all hope. If he can hit .230 or .240, get on base at a reasonable rate (which he’s shown he can do) and hit 15-20 HR it’s far more production than we’ve got out of 3rd last year. I don’t think it’s completely out of the question for this to happen.

    • fortyonenorth

      We actually had unexpectedly good production out of our 3B platoon last year. Barring an early-year promotion for Bryant, I doubt we match the numbers put up by LV, Murphy and Ransom.

  • JeffR

    Very true. In a perfect world Olt wins the 3rd base job and produces a 2-3 WAR and Valbuena moves to 2nd a produces similar or slightly better than last year. Call me a cubs fan for even dreaming this optimistically.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Too good to pass up – trade with Astros? Castro for Castro?

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Are you talking Jason Castro? The catcher that had an OPS+ of 130? Why would the Astros want to trade him (and his cheap pre-arb salary )for a SS that just had a bad season (and a guaranteed contract in the millions) for a rising star? It might be good for us but it looks horrible for the Astros.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Arb eligible? Heyman knew something to report

  • Diehardthefirst

    Teams are showing interest in young Astros catching star Castro
    -J. Heyman Nov 2013

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