More Positive Reports for Arodys Vizcaino and Other Bullets

arodys vizcaino cubsGoodbye, Olympics. See you in a couple years in Rio.

  • Arodys Vizcaino, already at the switch for a Spring Training hype train, threw live BP for the first time yesterday, and once again impressed. Carrie Muskat says Vizcaino was hitting 97/98 mph on the gun, and Ryan Sweeney says he was shaving 10 mph off of that with a nice changeup. Vizcaino also throws a sharp breaking ball, so you can imagine how much success a hard-throwing, three-MLB-quality-pitch pitcher could be in a relief role. If, long-term, Vizcaino isn’t going to make it as a starter, it won’t be because of ability – just durability. But that’s part of the reason to dream on him as an exceptional reliever (even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp). The important bit on Vizcaino for now: still no setbacks. Everything feels good.
  • The story for Jake Arrieta isn’t as bright, even if there’s still no red alarms flashing – probably just a disconnect between the Cubs’ cautious approach and Arrieta’s understandable optimism. Arrieta threw on flat ground yesterday, hoping it would be his final throwing session before he could get back on the mound, but Rick Renteria told Jesse Rogers that Arrieta still has “quite a bit to go” before he’s back on the mound. I’m not worried yet (beyond the normal worry that accompanies even minor issues – Arrieta says he feels fine), because, in the grand scheme of things, Arrieta starting the season a few (cold) weeks late isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Cubs can DL Arrieta to start the year and take a little time making the ultimate rotation/roster decision that his spot will force.
  • A profile on last year’s $3.1 million Cuban reliever signing Armando Rivero? Yes please, Patrick Mooney. For whatever reason, Rivero, who flew up the minor league latter late last year with stupid numbers and then pitched in the AFL with mixed results, gets lost in the bullpen shuffle heading into 2014. I suppose for me that’s merely a product of the ability to give Rivero a little more seasoning at AAA, and the glut of decent bullpen arms available to the Cubs out of camp. Rivero is 26, so, with a little more stateside ball, he should probably be ready to go by the second half of the year. Folks seem to think he looked good throwing live BP yesterday, with a mid-90s fastball and sharp breaking stuff.
  • More from Mooney on the need for veteran leadership in the clubhouse when the youngsters come up, including quotes from Jed Hoyer concurring in the need, long-term. I offered my thoughts on that subject last week, for those who missed it.
  • Mike Olt continues to say he’s seeing the ball well, per Mark Gonzales. Moreover, he’s no longer on special medication for his eyes (which I take to mean he no longer has to use the drops in his eyes for lubrication/allergies). That’s another good sign, even if everything is still cautious optimism at most.
  • Praise for Welington Castillo’s continued defensive work.
  • Jerry Crasnick reports Javier Baez is looking for a new agent. When word gets around that you can and will break all windows in a single metropolitan area, the possibility of future bucks increases. (UPDATE: For his part, Baez denies he’s shopping around, per Mark Gonzales.)
  • If you guessed Barry Bonds would be welcomed back to help with the Giants before Sammy Sosa came back to the Cubs, you’d be right.
  • I won’t call it the usual “prospect porn of the day,” since it feels little weird, given the substance. But I will say this is great news:

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

169 responses to “More Positive Reports for Arodys Vizcaino and Other Bullets”

  1. farmerjon


  2. MattyNomad

    Gotta love the drive Vogelbach has….given the title “worst body in the minor leagues”, he goes on to lose a good amount of weight. Plays well, breaks onto certain prospect lists, but still “needs to improve defense” if he wants to be anything more than a DH. Called trade bait, no NRI to Spring Training or appearance at CubsCon….goes on to lose another 30lbs. This kid has fire in his belly….I like the way he’s motivated. I think he might climb some charts this season and prove a lot of people wrong.

    1. Rebuilding
      1. Jon

        I hope that girl is 18

        1. JeffR

          That’s his sister

          1. FFP
            1. FFP



              1. FFP


                third time the charm?

      2. MattyNomad

        He really does. If he keeps this up I feel like the front office is really going to have to find a place for him at Wrigley in the following years. Unless of course they receive one of those “offers you cant refuse” kind of trades.

        I’ll probably never admit to saying this again, but I’d rather see the NL go to the DH before I wanna see a bat like his walk.

        1. Internet Random

          “I’ll probably never admit to saying this again, but I’d rather see the NL go to the DH before I wanna see a bat like his walk.”

          I’d rather baseball in all its guises vanish forever than have the NL adopt the designated-hitter rule.

          There’s always college basketball… and I think I could probably get into lacrosse.

          1. MattyNomad

            I don’t care what the cause…there is never a reason to start following college basketball. And lacrosse is great, but only if this guy is playing…steve-stifler-7074.jpg

  3. TheRiot2

    With Arrieta hitting the proverbial bump in the road,why not stretch Sanchez out and see if he could handle a spot in the rotation early on.Two lefties in the rotation interests me. Especially when I’m not sold on Rusin who in my opinion is quite hittable.

  4. Kyle

    If Vizcaino is healthy on Opening Day, I think he has to be in the MLB bullpen. The guy is in his third year of service time already and has been injured more or less every year of his career. Might as well take any innings you can get from him and call it a win.

    1. Isaac

      Agreed. Let him pitch. That pen’ has the opportunity to be filthy. Nothing like going from a major liability to a relative strength in an offseason.

    2. josh ruiter

      Remember…Chicago in April/May is not conducive to pitchers arms. So for a guy who is recovering from multiple arm issues…to keep him in the warm climate for a month or two is not a bad idea. No reason to let that arm suffer in the elements if its as good as it sounds thus far.

      1. Kyle

        Pitching has not been conducive to his arm staying healthy, be it in Chicago or Tennessee. Get the innings while you can.

      2. d_seg1

        He’s not going to high A or extended spring training if he’s healthy, so you think the weather is gonna so much better in Tennessee or Kane County?

        1. d_seg1

          ***meant Iowa not Kane County!

    3. bnile1

      OR since he hasn’t pitched to a single live hitter in the past 2 years you COULD let him get his feet wet at AAA, and call him up after he gets on a roll. The Cubs have no shortage of arms to sort through in the first month or 2.

      I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that when he’s called up would determine if he’s eligible for arbitration this year. That may also be a good reason to take it a little slower.

      1. Kyle

        He will be presumably be pitching to live batters all through spring training.

        If they hold him down for two months, yes, he avoids arbitration next year. But given how little he has on his resume, I don’t think arbitration is going to be particularly expensive.

        1. Orval Overall

          But you’re still letting him reach free agency one year sooner. So if the difference is two extra months with the MLB team in 2014, or six months in 2018, I’ll take the six months.

          1. Kyle

            Given his injury history, I’d rather take the two months where we know he’s healthy now vs. hoping he’s healthy for six months in 2018.

            1. Eternal Pessimist

              Finding out 2 months earlier whether he can handle MLB seems like a short-sighted reason to bring him up early. Lost year, plenty of depth anyway, and the ‘need’ to show off some other flippable assets are all good reasons to hold off on his promotion.

              1. Kyle

                He’s Angel Guzman part 2. If you wait two months, you might miss the only two months he can ever give you.

                1. Eternal Pessimist

                  He’s young and might still be good for a long time. You protect every bit of value you can for the team.

                  You might argue he is likely to make our team that much better and that his presence helps improve the MLB team culture prior to the new guys coming up. Otherwise it is an unnecessary risk.

                  1. IA_Colin

                    Has anyone thought about the extension negotiations impact if you hold back a guy a few months just to maybe save a few bucks later on? I say dont give him extra ammo for that and if he’s good in relief and then say he’s stretched out next season then work towards a friendly extension. Both sides can benefit.

                    1. DocPeterWimsey

                      The Rays have been able to extend players despite the fact that all of them magically became “seasoned” shortly after the Rays had gained one more year of control.

                    2. IA_Colin

                      You may be over simplifying who the rays have done.

                      Longoria extended in his first season with the ML club after 2 years in the minors. Moore extended after 2 starts? Zobrist spent 3 years middling around before breaking out and getting his extension.

                      So what extension have the Rays done after playing with service time? Especially the just holding back a few months thing?

                    3. Brandon

                      Im waiting to hear about a lawsuit filed by minor league players for holding them back to gain an extra year and thus costing the players money. I think if im ownership i would just start saying they need more time or need to work on things instead of saying to get an extra year of controll before this becomes reality. People sue for anything these days.

                    4. bbmoney

                      When has ownership ever said it was to gain a year of control? Ownership would be morons to ever say that. Because then they would get a grievance filed against them…that’s why ownership or the FO would never say anything like that….even if we figure it’s true.

                      It’s really hard for the players to prove unless someone says something like that. Although I think the Mets SS talked about filing a grievance, not sure if he actually followed through.

                    5. Brandon

                      Maybe im wrong but i thought Theo has said a few things about an extra year of controll by waiting to call players up.

        2. bnile1

          If his arm is that fragile then why pitch him in a year you don’t figure to be competing for the title, Put him on ice and bring him back for a time when “getting the innings while you can” would be productive. Reality is they can put him in controlled situations and pitch counts in AAA, to bring him a long a little more slowly. A reasonable precaution. The arbitration/ service time issues are just a bonus, but one the smart organizations pay attention to.

    4. Q-Ball

      Actually, the fact that Vizcaino has accrued service time is a good reason he should NOT open the season on the ML roster. By keeping him at Iowa, I believe the Cubs can move back his FA date from 2018 to 2019. I don’t know exact dates, but I think he would need to be down a couple months, if the service time number on BR is correct at 2.05

      The other factor is this: Who do you leave off the roster? Injuries may take care of that problem, but we have alot of pitchers who are out of options or otherwise can’t be sent down. As it stands, Strop, Wright, Russell, Villanueva are locks for 4 spots, with Cabrera out of options. Blake Parker hardly deserves a demote. Injuries may take care of it, but it’s a bit crowded right now.

  5. Pat

    That Baez bit makes me wonder if there are already rumblings of extending him long term. He won’t hit arg for at least 4 years, and is probably at least 2 years from any endorsements, so the timing makes me think at least he believes there may be something in the works sooner than that.

    1. Pat

      won’t hit *arb*

    2. Jon

      I hope he doesn’t sign with that snake Boras

      1. CubChymyst

        You are aware that there are already a few cubs players with Boras. He generally gets the job done for his players. That is his job.

        1. Eternal Pessimist

          You are aware that Boras’ job is not to support the Cubs building plans? I also he finds another agent (because…i’m a Cub fan).

  6. Isaac

    Oh my, that lead in to the Vogelbach bit was absolutely hilarious.

  7. Diehardthefirst

    Keep an eye on Phillies fast track 3B rookie Asche (not ass) — if he makes it maybe Cubs could do likewise with some of kids?

    1. MattyNomad

      Nah. I still think Theo intends to let them sit in the minors until its a more appropriate time. Assuming Olt makes the opening day roster at 3rd, we can throw some VERY *IF* like scenarios with Bryant in RF and Baez/Alcantara at 2nd, Vitters/Lake in LF….and we still have a lot of ground to cover at the MLB level. Doesnt make sense to bring these guys up that early until we know we have the resources and moves for SP and other FA’s to help suppliment them.

      1. Diehardthefirst

        Seems Theo likes to keep to his “plan” which does not allow for the flexibility to innovate. He’s no Branch Rickey

        1. MattyNomad

          This is true. But I still never really bought into that “building on dual fronts” agenda. I’m not for giving up draft picks for free agents unless were in a place to actually compete, and I just don’t believe we would have ever grabbed some of these core pieces had we made bigger strides to compete NOW. Lets face it, the system is set up in a way that you either go big or go home. You make the playoffs or you may as well be last because sitting in limbo doesnt do much in either direction.

          1. cooter

            “You make the playoffs or you may as well be last because sitting in limbo doesnt do much in either direction.” It makes sense in the baseball world but for myself, and I’m sure there are plenty like me (from the selfish aspect) when the Cubs win I have a great day. When they lose I’m pissed. So from my selfish point of view I would rather win 75 then 65.

            1. MattyNomad

              Now just theorizing here, but isnt that the same kind of philosophy that has prevented us from winning on either level, both majors and minors? 75 wins doesnt get you a division title or a wildcard. On the flip side it gets you middle of the order draft picks on ‘Meh’ prospects. Now, prospects are NEVER a sure thing but your putting all your chips on a bunch of guys with much lower ceilings for a hope that you can enjoy 10 more W’s.

              I’m as much of a fan of that W flag flying high at Wrigley, and I miss those back to back division titles just as much as anyone. But isnt it time we break the mold as Cubs fans? Be a little uncomfortable with “the plan”, and understand that its uncomfortable to watch because its like nothing we’ve done before.

              1. Kyle

                “Now just theorizing here, but isnt that the same kind of philosophy that has prevented us from winning on either level, both majors and minors? ”

                No, it wasn’t and it never was. This ridiculous myth is never going to die, but danged if I’m not going to give it my best shot.

                The Cubs sucked at player development. This wasn’t because they won middling amounts of games too often. Hell, the Cubs won middling amounts fewer than almost any team since the 1980s. They had a remarkable knack for mixing in terrible seasons like 2002, 2005 and 2006 to their runs of success, with very few middling seasons.

                The only “mold” that needs to be broken is sucking at player development. And not always for lack of effort. There were periods where they put a ton of resources into it and still just sucked at it.

                The Cubs have tried a dozen different strategies over the last 50 years, including the one they are trying now. This isn’t something new, and it isn’t some magical “opposite of everything that came before it” plan.

        2. cubbiekoolaid2015

          I could see Eloy Jimenez or Gleybar Torres in the majors at age 20. Both 17 now and could start in Arizona. That’s not exactly fast tracking, but those two definitely have the potential to move through the system quickly.

          1. JeffR

            If they start in Arizona and have really god years then it’s a possibility. A better possibility is they have mediocre years because they are adjusting to life in the U.S. and are really young for the level. I would guess they will at best spend this year in Arizona and then spend the entire next year in Boise.

        3. DocPeterWimsey

          What would Branch Rickey do in 2014? (There are many possible answers, but “what he did in the 1940′s/1950′s” is not among them.)

          1. hansman

            WWBRDI2014 isn’t very catchy.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              It is if you sing it to the tune of “Everything is Awesome.”

          2. Diehardthefirst

            Glad you asked- for the good of the game he would refuse to sign anyone who is not a HS graduate, under 18, a “defector” and who is not represented by a reputable agent-

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Sorry DieHard, but that is absolute rubbish. No GM would keep his job in 2014 if he did those things.

              So, again, answer the question: how would Branch Rickey run a team *in 2014*. (Here’s a big hint: think someone with the initials “AF”: that would be a good starting point!)

              1. Brocktoon

                If he was running the rays, sure that’s how he’d act.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  And yet, even the big market teams are emulating Friedman. The real point (undoubtedly lost along the way!) is that the true “outside the box” thinking of recent years goes very much the opposite of what Diehard wants.

            2. DarthHater

              Those are all things you say Branch Rickey would NOT do. Limiting one’s options with a long no-no list does not constitute having “the flexibility to innovate.”

      2. Kyle

        Why would we be assuming Olt makes the opening day roster?

        1. another JP

          A better question is why would Vitters make a good 5th OF?

          1. CubFan Paul

            Why wouldn’t Vitters make a good 5th OF (on a rebuilding club, after a successful offensive stint in AAA)?

          2. Kyle

            Because he’s reasonably athletic, young, and has been an excellent hitter at AAA the last two seasons.

            1. another JP

              Reasonably athletic and young could describe most milb players, it means nothing. This will be Vitters 8th season in the minors and he’s learning how to play LF to save his career- what does that tell you? And as far as being a good AAA hitter, big deal. It’s the PCL, which was dominated by Hoffpauer and LaHair. Look where it got them.

              1. Kyle

                Vitters hit well in AAA *in his first look, at an appropriate age*. If you think that doesn’t portend likely being an acceptable major leaguer, then you’re simply incorrect.

                And can we stop pretending that left field is difficult to “learn”? It’s left field. You can learn it in two days.

                1. another JP

                  Oh, yeah? Well you should be able to produce a study then which shows hitting well in AAA portends major league success. Good luck with that.

                  And if Vitters is so damn good, how come Junior Lake is ahead of him on the OF depth chart? After all, Vitters had much better #s @ Iowa than Lake.

                  1. DocPeterWimsey

                    Um, that’s been very well shown*. In particular, it’s been shown that combining the Age + Success at AAA (or AA) does a very good job of predicting MLB success.

                    That is why two years ago people were saying that LaHair’s AAA numbers didn’t predict much success at the MLB level whereas Rizzo’s AAA numbers did.

                    *: what has been shown is that particular core numbers such as K-rates, BB-rates, slugging rates, etc., are predictive, and those in turn are predictive of “success” as outcome ≠ success.

                    1. another JP

                      Link(s) please.

                    2. DocPeterWimsey

                      Check out Fangraphs for stuff like this, although for this sort of thing you’ll have to sort through a lot of things over the years: it is old, old news.

                    3. another JP

                      Well, there’s this article relating to prospect ages, position, ranking and how they relate to future success:

                      But there’s no mention of AAA stats being tied to ML success and there’s no other study which show a correlation between the two, which was Kyle’s original assertion. I’d argue that AAA stats are most meaningful for TOR starters that have lights out results as minor leaguers. And if Vitters AAA success were so significant he’d have been in Chicago some time last year. He’s a man without a position whose cup of coffee was horrendous.

                    4. another JP
                    5. Kyle

                      Not to mention that if LaHair were as athletic as Vitters, he’d be a reasonable choice for a fifth outfielder too somewhere in the majors.

                    6. Kyle

                      “And if Vitters AAA success were so significant he’d have been in Chicago some time last year. ”

                      You do realize he was hurt most of last year, right?

                    7. DocPeterWimsey

                      For batters, things like K-rates, BB-rates and XBH-rates in miLB correlate well with how they will do in MLB, particularly for younger players. This is very, very old news in 2014. It was old news in 2012 when people were contrasting LaHair & Rizzo.

                  2. Kyle

                    We need to prove to you that playing baseball at the AAA level has any correlation at all with playing baseball at the MLB level?

                    The “prove it!” fallacy has officially reached its absurd peak.

                    1. DarthHater

                      “The ‘prove it!’ fallacy has officially reached its absurd peak.”

                      You have supplied no sources to support this sweeping assertion. :-o

        2. MattyNomad

          He wouldnt. The whole purpose of that post should have been evident by the big hypothetical *IF*. IF we could assume that the higher tier prospects we have find a way to overperform in ST, we would still have a ways to grow.

  8. Baseball_Writes

    I know it’s early, but I love hearing good things about Olt. Makes me giggley.

  9. CubFan Paul

    Baez will get an early Rizzo/Simmons-like extension after 2015 or free agency will become more and more attractive to him after that.

  10. Diehardthefirst

    Wishful thinking and ur right- hekavassumption

  11. Diehardthefirst

    Would hope that any rookie who significantly exceeds expectations during ST will make final cut- nothing to lose

  12. woody

    An article over at cubbies crib report that Tom Loxas says the Rangers, Blue Jays and Mariners all have been in touch. Speculation is that maybe they are interested in Villanueva. Also I find it interesting that the Jays have two protected first round picks for this years draft. I was wondering if those draft picks could be a bargaining chip in a trade for Shark? Personally I think if anything happens it will be Villanueva to the Rangers. .

    1. MattyNomad

      Pretty sure they’re not allowed to trade any of those picks. Jays get #9 and 11 this year. Which would just be mouthwatering to think we could grab either of those. But again, I don’t think thats possible

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        It’s odd how many sports fans are unaware of this! It probably is because trading draft picks is common in other sports.

        Many people have argued that it might help the small market teams if they could trade draft picks because so often they were forced to pass on top talent because they could not afford them. Trade those picks to the Yanks or Sox, however, and they could get something better in the end than an overslotted “signable” prospect. The new CBA is a different way to get at that, however.

        1. Q-Ball

          Everyone is correct…..however, new CBA DOES allow you to trade the competitive balance picks that a few teams are awarded. Those picks only. That probably also confuses fans into thinking all picks can be traded.

    2. nkniacc13

      No you cant trade those picks

      1. Cheese Chad

        I didn’t know this either but, “Unlike with regular draft picks, it’s possible for teams to trade competitive balance picks, which means that each team surely has decided how much these picks are worth.”

    3. Lou Brown

      I always forget about Villanueva as well. With our relative glut for bullpen and 5th starter, he would make sense to trade, and since he plays both roles may bring something decent back to a team that needs some pitching help.

      1. woody

        The Rangers have big problems with injuries right now. Villanueva would be a reasonable cost effective fix for them. Rather see the young guys anyway.

  13. Diehardthefirst

    Sometimes helps to get another opinion:…/TeamPage.aspx?...
    Record 75 – 87 – Chicago Cubs Lineup and Chicago Cubs Rotation.

    1. cubbiehawkeye

      I don’t see a huge drop off at mid season like years past. Who would we sell off thats going to put a huge dent in our offense? A huge dent that can’t be patched with a somewhat productive Javier Baez (assuming he gets called up before or around mid season). The only name that comes to mind is Schierholtz. I see a 70-75 win season and I know most would rather make the playoffs or lose 100 games but I think that is out of Theo and Jed’s control this year. The “plan” is at that stage and it’s exciting.

      1. Lou Brown

        Shark will be gone in July. Veras also, and probably Sheirholtz. We aren’t that good to begin with, so 100 losses is certainly possible. I am hoping for a top ten pick next year, and scooping up 2 or 3 QO free agents next offseason, to play alongside the newly arrived Baez and Alcantara, with the talk of Bryant making the team out ST next year, and us debating whether or not to start his clock since we look competitive on paper.

      2. Kyle

        Losing Schierholtz and Sweeney might hurt a bit (and we could always move Castro), but there’s also the pitching side. Samardzija and Jackson could easily be gone, and that crushes the starting rotation.

        1. cubbiehawkeye

          The starting pitching is the only part of a mid season sell off that makes me nervous for a boring second half but thinking optimistically I hope we have some surprise arms this year that make that less of a worry.

        2. ClevelandCubsFan

          I’m not convinced we’ll do that. Some guys will probably be traded yes. But I think that with a need for key veterans we may hold a few guys. Shark is a wildcard. But if Jackson, eg, has really bought into the “Cubs Way” (and we don’t know) he might be too valuable to lose as a role model and leader given he wouldn’t get us THAT much in trade. I think this rule could apply to a number of guys… have they bought into the system and do they provide good leadership? Then maybe we don’t unload them.

          1. cubbiehawkeye

            I think at some point we need to start keeping some the older players around for the leadership. Mainly because we are going to start seeing some of the projected talent coming up.

        3. Cheese Chad

          I do keep hearing people say Jackson. I think they keep him if he’s pitching well for the same reasons they signed him in the first place. They are really only a year (glass half full) behind what we thought would be their first playoff hunt year. If they signed Jackson to be that mid-rotation innings eater guy then there is no reason not to keep him for the next two years.

  14. josh ruiter

    So, perspectives are the Cubs are going to be bad again this year…but with good first halves from Shark, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Sweeney, Barney, and our pen…would fans be happy with trading those guys + a Veras, Russell, Valbuena, Wood, Villanueva…and letting the kids play if they are ready? Would fans come out in the second half to watch the non-playoff bound roster of
    Baez, Castro, Bryant, Alcantara, Castillo, Rizzo, Lake, Olt, Kalish?
    And then knowing we had restocked again by trading those guys?

    1. woody

      Why on earth would the Cubs want to trade Wood?

      1. josh ruiter

        possibly b/c he way outperformed his peripherals last year…which is not an anomaly for him, but we can capitalize on his value now. He is a good 4 on a good staff…and we might be able to sell him as a 3 mid-season with a good first half. Not b/c I want to see him go, but with the glut of prospects who fit the mold of “backend of the rotation 4/5 type guys” if we can fleece someone why not?

        1. cubbiehawkeye

          Josh, I see where you are coming from and it makes sense but I think at this point keeping Wood makes more sense. He loves the Cubs and he provides much more to this team than quality starts. He is a good athlete and holding on to him should be a priority. IMO

          1. woody

            Not to mention that dependable lefthanded starters are a precious commodity.

          2. CubFan Paul

            “keeping Wood makes more sense. He loves the Cubs and he provides much more to this team than quality starts”

            He loves the Cubs. Nothing to see here, no need to capitalize on an average short term asset (that’ll be overpaid in year 2 of his arbitration).

        2. Chad

          If the cubs can truly fleece someone and get a top tier prospect out of the deal then yeah. I’m all for gathering assets that have potential to be better, but the cubs can’t even fleece anyone for Samardzija, how are they going to do it for Woods? It’s not like everyone else can’t see that he outperformed his peripherals last year.

  15. Diehardthefirst

    If Cubs have .500 first half it will be because of warm weather in Chicago in April and May

    1. josh ruiter

      that or good baseball playing…both teams play everyday…so weather shouldn’t be that big of a deterrent really.

    2. cubbiehawkeye

      I think guys like Lake will surprise. Sabermetrics aside how can you not get excited for a guy that hits a bomb then turns around and bunts for a single. Soriano and Dejesus will be missed but I think Lake can somewhat fill those shoes and Castro will be back to his old ways adding a little power. People on here throw their arms up when they look at this team on paper and scream 100 losses but I don’t see it judging by the eye test. Our bullpen is 100 times better going into this season than last and the starting pitching isn’t great but it’s not absolutely horrible.

      1. woody

        We’ll see if this bunch can score any runs this year. Inability to put runs on the board negates pitching. And our average with runners in scoring position was atrocious. How many games did we put up a couple of runs early and then watch the lead evaporate and not score again?

        1. cubbiehawkeye

          You make a good point. Solid hitting from top to bottom should take care of some of that taking in to affect how pitchers pitch from one hitter to the next if they are providing something more than a blackhole offensively but that is weakness that should and will be addressed….I would hope. The one change I would like to see is at second base. I’m a Darwin Barney fan. I live in Des Moines and he is one I enjoyed seeing at Sec Taylor but he isn’t the answer there and I think we should start trying other players. I love the Bonifacio signing and if alcantara has shown improvement from both sides of the plate in ST I think he should also be looked at as an option.

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          Fortunately, the difference between Team BA & BABiP in Year One predicts that difference in Year 2 just as well as a coin does.

          The bottom of the order hitters really are not the issue. Modern pitchers approach Batter A based on Batter A’s heat zone, and not on Batter B. The only real exceptions to this are High Leverage situations where there is a huge disparity between A and B.

          As for how often the Cubs had early leads and then lost them, I don’t know. However, in general, sports fans count 2 or 3 such games for every 1 that actually happens!

      2. Kyle

        Well, if your eye test is “I like guys who are kinda fast and also at some point in their careers have hit a home run,” then yeah, I can see why this team might pass your eye test.

        But on a slightly more sophisticated look, they suck out loud.

        1. cubbiehawkeye

          No doubt but my point in saying home run to bunt is it makes defenses think a little more which provides value that sabermetrics can’t put a number on. Lake isn’t going to scare anyone but he can keep a defense on it’s toes which could have a domino effect for the guys hitting behind or in front of him.

          1. Kyle

            Of course sabermetrics can put a number on it.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Indeed, it is part of xBABiP.

              1. cubbiehawkeye

                ….still doesn’t change the fact that a defense could be thrown off by a guy who can throw down a bunt just as well as put a charge in the ball.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  …. which is completely irrelevant to our ability to put numbers on it.

                  1. cubbiehawkeye

                    Agreed. Which is why I say sabermetrics aside. I guess I should have been a little more descriptive when getting to my point. I see a lot of people use sabermetrics to say Lake won’t provide near the value of Soriano. Which is true but I’m just giving my opinion as to why he can make up for some of that value.

                    1. Jason P

                      He barely walks, has about 15 HR power, strikes out a ton, has a dead pull-side approach and can’t play a quality centerfield. Sabermetrics just put numbers behind his inability to do each of those things.

          2. ClevelandCubsFan

            Lake is an interesting player. No question. He was fun to watch. And yes if you have a line drive hitter who can bunt effectively at will, he may be able to misplace defenses and get himself a handful of extra hits. Buuut you can’t just throw sabermetrics aside. That’s like saying, “never mind the facts for a moment. ” The stats show a guy who needs to raise his game in some key areas that historically are very difficult to raise at this point in his development. It can be done. I’m rooting for him. But I’m not betting on him. He’s not going to put up Ted Williams like BABIPs going forward.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              It is not even just throwing aside the facts: it’s assuming that we are unable to correlate the effect that one variable has on another variable. This might not be Stats 101, but it’s not in the class for majors, either.

              As for Williams, his median season BABiP was 0.324. He derived a big chunk of his BA from HR, after all. Doubles and triples were another big part: and that reflects driving the ball more than the whims of Eris.

              Williams singles-rate fluctuated quite a bit throughout his career: and his 0.406 season accompanied the year where his singles rate was 0.04 above his career median.

            2. cubbiehawkeye

              I guess I should have worded that better. My point in saying “throw it aside” is that value can be in other places that you can’t put a number on…something we all know. That’s also why I throw out “eye test”.

  16. ClevelandCubsFan

    Didn’tVogelbach lose a lot of weight before last year? Too? Is this 30 pounds off that previous loss or did he regain any? Is like to get an updated picture. Sounds like someone told him decent first basemen make a lot more money than DHs.

  17. Austin5596

    Gardner extended by the Yanks. That takes another FA off the board for next year

  18. Blackhawks1963

    Gardner gets 4 years $52 M from Yankees. He’s an underrated player and that is good deal for both sides.

    Further proof that the Theo strategy of building the Cubs is the only real way to go. Steady pipeline of young talent to plug and play, or trade away for other things.

  19. Serious Cubs Fan

    I think the Cubs FO should leave Vizcaino at Iowa all year to build up innings, refine his control and pitch mix & most important preserve his arbitration clock, since its already started. Build up his innings at iowa to try and give him a chance to be a starter next year

  20. Serious Cubs Fan

    I’m a little worried about Vogelbach losing 30lbs. Should help his long-term ability to play 1st but may affect his main asset, Power….

  21. Serious Cubs Fan

    I really hope Baez doesn’t hire Boras as his new agent, that would affectively kill the future possibility of a team friendly extension, assuming of course Baez pans out and is able to adjust and be affective at the major leagues

  22. Serious Cubs Fan

    I feel like the Rangers had to have known about Olt’s allergy problem… if not then the Ranger’s team doctor will probably lose his job, if Olt returns to Top 25 prospect form. And thats a big IF

    1. baldtaxguy

      I believe Olt indicates here that the cause (allergy) was not known until after the trade.

  23. MattM

    If you think about the Garza deal a little further and from a different perspective it actually look a lot better than most people think. Rizzo was a top 10 prospect and then was moved up to the Padres quickly losing value. Grimm had the same situation with the Rangers.

    If Grimm is not moved up to the Rangers as early as he was we wouldn’t even be talking about him. He would still be a highly talked about pitching prospect. If you take his setback and compare it to Rizzo’s they are pretty close. I think Grimm turns out to be a Derrick Lowe type number three pitcher. If Bosio is as good as everyone says then Grimm has a good chance of improving a good deal.

    With Olt; people do not think about the mental side of the game as much. If you just think about his situation mentally for a minute…. This guys was AWESOME before the concussion and eye issues. His season last year was a failure because of the eye issues. If you take the eye issues away and he has a good season last year with no setbacks, and he comes up to the Cubs he is nervous and worried and possibly thinking he could be overmatched.

    This year he is thinking only about the fact that he can see now. That takes a HUGE weight off of his shoulders! If I look at it from that point of view; then I don’t think he has any nervousness or worries at all this year. That makes this season completely positive in his mind and eliminates any negativity a prospect would normally have coming up to an MLB team. From that perspective I could see him actually having a MONSTEROUS year for the Cubs!

    I know, some people will say I’m a kool aid drinker, but it makes perfect sense. Take Rizzo for example. He came off of a huge season in the minors for the Padres, and when they moved him up he completely tanked. He probably felt that nervousness and pressure. Olt will not have that because in his mind he has his eyesight back. He’s only thinking about that! I think it will be huge!

    1. Kyle

      Most people think the Garza trade was a fantasitc haul. How much better could it look?

      1. MattM

        It could look MASSIVELY better! If Grimm and Olt live up to their previous hypes! That’s the thing. If everything stays the same this trade was great, but if those two live up to previous expectations this will go down as the worst trade in history (for the Rangers)! It will finally take the Cubs out of the negative part of that conversation.

        I definitely think Olt will bounce back. I don’t know about Grimm yet. I guess it will depend on how well that minor league pitching instructor does. Then if Bosio lives up to his hype…. Grimm could be awesome!

      2. Rebuilding

        Kyle, you’ve always argued that one of the big mistakes this FO has made is not moving Garza before he initially got injured. Now I’m confused

        1. Kyle

          I’m not sure why that would be confusing. They got a great haul for half a season of recently hurt Matt Garza. It pales in comparison to what they could have gotten for two full seasons of healthy Matt Garza.

          1. Rebuilding

            No way. In a vacuum, yes 2 years of Garza SHOULD be worth more. As it turned out a desperate Rangers team have them more than prob could have been had at any time before that (as an example – Olt would not have been included the year before). Otherwise it wouldn’t be a “fabulous haul”. You can say that’s luck if you want, but it turned out in our favor

            1. Kyle

              It really didn’t.

              What we got was a “fabulous haul” for a Garza rental, but it wasn’t *that* great. It was one top-100 pitcher, a couple of possibly AAAA arms and a blind 3b.

        2. another JP

          What the… more B.S. from “Mr. Logic”. First of all, Garza was far from healthy. After his career season in 2011, the front office was attempting to build value for him when he became injured in June. A couple months of teams deciding whether they even wanted to pay Theo’s asking price because they hadn’t reached the ASB wasn’t a failure on the Cubs part.

          And stating the Garza haul paled in comparison to what they could have received is total crap. You have no clue what other players were being discussed. One could actually assume a similar “haul” to what we received for Dempster from the Rangers. Hendricks and Villanueva are decent but nowhere near the magnitude of Olt, Edwards, Grimm, and Ramirez.

          1. YourResidentJag

            If the Cubs would have received what they got back for Dempster for two years of Garza, I’d be laughing big time.

            1. another JP

              Well YRJ, it’s kind of a moot point, isn’t it? One can only assume what the Cubs might have received for Garza with a full two years of control.

              Or maybe not- take a look at the situation with Shark right now. Based on what’s being said about Garza the Cubs should have no problem getting two or three top 100 prospects from Toronto, Seattle, or anyone else needing pitching. I’d say Shark’s upside is just as good with two arby years of control at about 3 WAR/season.

              And nobody will come close to paying that for Samarjdiza today.

              1. Kyle

                Saying “two or three top 100 prospects” isn’t particularly meaningful.

                Samardzija couldn’t get 1-2-3. He could certainly net 98-99-100. Anything in between? Depends on the specific case.

                And of course, Jeff Samardzija doesn’t have a 4.9 fWAR season on his resume.

          2. MattM

            JP….why do you have to attack him? You can state your case without that….

            I will say that I think we got lucky by waiting. Everything aligned JUST because the Rangers were low on Olt and Grimm at the time.

            1. another JP

              If you think that’s an attack you obviously haven’t been reading enough internet forums. State what I said that’s an ‘attack’– otherwise I’ll just assume that’s what you’re doing to me.

              And BTW, this Kyle guy’s never-ending condescending posts deserve to be called out. So don’t ever think you can show up here and make me nervous with this attack garbage. There’s plenty to go around here, Matt.

              1. MattM

                When you start correlating everything he says with B.S. yes that’s an attack! We had a conversation about this 4-5 days ago in the “Theo and RR back Ricketts” blog post.

                On here that is absolutely a personal attack….

                1. another JP

                  And when I ask for proof that AAA success translates to and I’m responded with “the prove it fallacy reaches it’s absurd peak” I find that an equally offensive attack.

                  Better yet, you jump in attacking me on something that didn’t even concern you, so how are you better and what gives you the moral right to say a damn thing. You’re quite a treat, pal.

                  1. MattM

                    I didn’t say anything about what you said as a fallacy or B.S. or anything…..

                    How am I attacking you? In fact, I just asked you why you had to attack him.

                    Haha, it’s like the reverse affirmative action thing…. I get it.

                    1. MattM

                      Well Kyle, that’s what the ladies tell me…. Of course it could just be because of my money. :(

                  2. Kyle

                    Can you *prove* that he’s quite a treat? Do you have studies?

                    1. another JP

                      Please. I know you can do better than that.

                    2. MattM

                      Well Kyle, that’s what the ladies tell me…. Of course it could just be because of my money. :(

                      LOL! This was supposed to post under Kyle’s post…..

            2. Kyle

              It’s cool. If he wants to argue through condescension, he’s basically just conceding home-field advantage to me. That’s my turf.

          3. Kyle

            Fair point on Garza’s elbow injury in 2011. It was a lesser problem than his subsequent problems, but it’s reasonable to object to portraying him as “healthy.”

            I don’t know why on earth I should think the trade values of Ryan Dempster and then-Garza would be similar.

            1. another JP

              Fair enough. Until next time-

    2. Jason P

      Mike Olt was a very good *prospect* before the eye issues. That’s an important distinction because the majority of very good prospects don’t become very good major leaguers — and considering his K-rate Olt was always high risk.

      1. MattM

        Jason P, your distinction is an important distinction! Olt was listed as high as the 22nd best prospect in all of baseball before the concussion. He also has a .365 obp in the minors counting last year’s crappy season!

        You can strike out all you want but if you are a power hitter and you get on base 35 percent of the time I’ll take you! DO you think people wouldn’t take Adam Dunn? He strikes out a ton but I’m pretty sure he’s had a couple of years with 40hrs and .400 obp.

        You can strike out 200 times, and with Adam Dunn numbers I’d take you all day on the Cubs.

        1. Jason P

          The question, of course, is whether he can post a .350 OBP in the majors. As we have seen many times before, recently with Brett Jackson, contact issues can ruin players who have everything else. Olt has power, but not quite Dunn power!

          1. MattM

            I would have to check Dunn’s scouting reports….. Olt was listed as the number one power hitter in the Rangers minors for three years before the concussion.

          2. Kyle

            Mike Olt’s pre-injury projection would include a lot fewer walks and less power than Dunn, but of course with good 3b defense instead of Dunn’s bad anywhere defense.

            He was more likely to be a 20 HR guy than 30 HR guy.

            1. MattM

              I think I’m still good with 20hrs and a .350obp at third base. With his defense he’s still valuable….

              I’m telling you I think that he’s coming into this year extremely positive and crushes….Plus no one has a scouting report on him, so he has that going for him too…

      2. MattM

        Roughly 40% of prospects ranked 21-30 on the top 100 list earn between 1.5-4.5 WAR. You are right in that his strikeout rate is high, but he also had a good batting eye. There is no correlation between the two if you take Adam Dunn as an example. Maybe he was just TOO selective. Dunn has been criticized for that. But if he can bat .250 with 25HRs and 85RBIs with a .350OBP I don’t care that he strikes out a ton.

        At third base those numbers with his defense would get him about 2.5 WAR? That’s well within him I think…

        1. Jason P

          1.5 WAR is a pretty low threshhold. That’s a below average starter. So let’s say there was a 35% chance he became an average starter before the eye issues. Now, with the very real possibility that either the eye issues will come back or that his struggles were partially unrelated to the injury, that probability is lower.

          Strikeouts don’t matter is you can maintain a high OBP, but the problem is the 2 are inversely related (albeit not perfectly). You can’t get a cheap bloop single if you strike out.

          1. MattM

            I think they are less related than you do. There are a good deal of players that have lower batting averages but higher on base percentages. It doesn’t matter if they line out fly out or strike out…. You can have a low batting average but high on base percentage.

            I’m saying he is more likely to be a 2.5 WAR guy because of his walk rate and defense.

            1. Jason P

              It has been statistically proven that a high K-% negatively impacts offensive production, even when paired with a high BB-%.


              Among the highlights: “The table above shows how significantly a high K rate, especially, negatively impacts a player’s ability to achieve a high level of production. Hitters in Group 3 – higher than average K rate, higher than average BB rate – see their run value scaled to 100 fall by an average of 16.2 basis points from their run value based on batted balls alone. 

              1. MattM

                I do like the caveat here though. Say Olt becomes a group three player. His power plays very well….. If he is punishing the ball like the author suggests he can overcome the -16.2 points. Also, again that’s an average…..

                I would like to go through it some more to check out the standard deviation as well, but I don’t have the time.

                Thanks for that article though it’s definitely interesting…

  24. woody

    I am wondering what the weather is going to be like in April? I think Viscaino could be our version of Aroldis Chapman, but I think he needs a little work before he gets to the big show. Start him off in Florida where it is warm and move him up to Iowa. We might as well wait until the sell off in July and get another year of control. I’m sure they have every intention of flipping Veres so that would be a good time to bring him up. Everybody is talking Shark, but look for Edwin Jackson to possibly be moved. His contract would be a bargain considering the insane money they would have to pay in FA. Maybe Theo has a fire sale and moves Jackson and Samardzija for prospects and loads up on pitching in the draft.

    1. Brandon

      Thats what i said about Jackson a week ago, it wouldnt surprise me one bit to see him traded around tha break. Hopefully he is pitching good and teams need him, could turn out to be a decent return.

  25. Danny

    I saw Rivero live at Kane County and without even knowing exactly who it was on the mound I wrote the folloiwng in my Google Keep App: Whoever this kid is pitching right now has got great movement on his fastball, repeats delivery well, good arm action, same action on breaking stuff, control needs improvement.”

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