Quantcast

cactusMy first experience at Cubs Park was a good one, both in terms of the outcome and my own enjoyment. Also, it’s just damn good to be watching live baseball again. I’ll have more on Cubs Park, itself, later.

  • The Cubs beat an A’s split squad 6-4, largely on the strength of Justin Ruggiano doing what we hope he does during the season: crushing lefties. He scored Anthony Rizzo on a deep double, and then scored Rizzo again on a deep homer.
  • Kyle Hendricks didn’t appear to have his best command in this one, walking three in his two innings of work. He struck out two and gave up one hit. The walks are uncharacteristic for him. I didn’t have a great vantage point to see what his “stuff” looked like, so I can’t really comment further.
  • To my eye, the best looking pitcher of the day was Neil Ramirez, the oft-forgotten fourth piece in the Matt Garza trade. He struck out one and gave up a dribbler hit, but – to put it inarticulately – he just looked the part. Big, strong-looking, and a nice delivery. I’m not a scout, but I thought he looked impressive.
  • Interestingly, Carlos Pimentel got two innings of work after Hendricks, giving up just a couple walks and striking out two. Pimentel, you may recall, is the 24-year-old righty the Cubs picked up on a minor league deal this offseason, and who went on to win the pitcher of the year award in the Dominican Winter League.
  • Jonathan Sanchez also got in two innings of work, giving up four (solid) hits, and walking one. He was not overly impressive today.
  • Mike Olt! Entering the game late with a bunch of the prospects, Olt got an at bat against A’s pitching prospect Michael Ynoa, and drilled a homer to left.
  • Jorge Soler ripped one down the third baseline in his at bat, but was thrown out after a diving stop. It appeared that Soler was hustling down the line (i.e., no restrictions), but it also appeared that he just didn’t have a lot of speed. Warning: not a scout.
  • Albert Almora hit a solid single up the middle in his at bat, and, sure enough, the young man looks pretty well built – much stronger-looking than last year.
  • http://www.twitter.com/justinjabs @justinjabs

    I loved hearing the Olt HR. Most exciting thing to happen today. I really, really want him to grab that 3B job.

    • Henry Rowengartner

      Same. Having Olt man the 3b spot and doing decent opens up a lot for the Cubs in my opinion.

  • TimBeam

    THIS IS EXCITING!
    Kinda bummed I didn’t book a trip this spring (winter)

  • TommyK

    How did Rizzo look? His success will, in large part, determine if this season is merely unpleasant or intolerable.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ripped one of his hits, and the other was kind of a blooper. Looked fine. Can’t glean too much from one game for an established(ish) guy like that.

      • ssckelley

        Perhaps luck will be on his side this season?

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    My thinking is that if Olt wins the 3rd base job then who is out of the door? How can we carry three utility guys (Valbuena, Murphy, Bonafacio) ? My first thought is Barney. Baez was answering some question submitted and was asked if he were moved off of SS where would he prefer to play. His answer was 2nd base. But, back to my original point, how can we carry three utility guys on the 25 man roster if Olt is starting at 3rd?

    • Jed Jam Band

      We wouldn’t. In all likelihood, if Olt were to win the job (and I think that’s unlikely, not due to incompetence or anything, but rather because there’s no reason to force a guy into action after the season Olt last had), Valbuena would at least factor into a platoon with Barney at second base and one of either Murphy or Bonifacio would take the other spot with the other one hitting the minors/being waived/etc. Barney could be traded as well, which would certainly make this a moot point, but the proposed scenario would be most logical based on what we know. Still, I think we’ll open the season with Barney at 2nd and Murphy/Valbuena at 3rd. I think that if Olt hits well in the minors and more importantly, shows his eyes have stabilized, then it won’t be long before he gets his extended trial at 3rd.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        If it comes down to one of those three guys going down or being released I have to believe it will be Murphy. IMO Valbuena is more valuable and injects a lefthanded bat into whatever role he plays. And with Bonafacio’s versatility and speed I just can’t see much use for Murphy, unless Olt isn’t ready and they bring Baez in to play second. Effectively leaving the 3rd base platoon intact.

        • Jed Jam Band

          I would tend to agree with you on this.

        • itzscott

          Let’s look at it this way….

          If both Olt and Villanueva look pretty good this spring, they both can’t go to Iowa and TN wouldn’t be overly challenging….

          So I’d have to think one of the will come north. Most likely it’ll be Olt

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            They can both go to Iowa.

            Olt needs to show he can hit, not play third. His glove is not in question. It won’t hurt anything if Olt went to Iowa and split time between first, third, left, and DH.

            Villanueva may need to move of third anyway with Baez and Bryant hanging around, so I’d not be surprised to see him get a look at second when Olt is at third.

            Alcantara, of course, will be the daily second baseman, but he could stand to get some innings in center field if necessary.

            There is no Triple A roster based reason to not send Olt to Iowa, and that is where I fully expect he’ll go.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              The ICubs are going to be a prospect heavy team to start the year.

              AND I FRIGGEN LOVE IT

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                Yep.

                This would be a good year to make a trip to Iowa.

                • http://www.dylanheuer.com Dylan

                  I can’t wait to break out my camera and photograph the games! :-D

                  • Darth Ivy

                    Sharing is caring!

              • farmerjon

                I most definitely plan on making multiple treks to Dez Moinez this summer (early) for some prospects goodness. I’ll let you know ahead of time Hansman, be great to meet up for cheeseburgers ; )

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              (Oh, and maybe if you tell folks one more time that Olt doesn’t have anything to prove with the glove, they’ll listen)

            • itzscott

              Luke…

              That looks like it’d cause a whole domino effect of guys playing out of their normal positions at the highest level of the minors, which would likely do more harm than good at this point.

              I’ll stick with Olt coming north if he shows anything between now and opening day…. which means Villanueva, Alcantara and everyone else can play the positions that got them to this point.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                Nah. Every move in the domino chain I referenced, and in every case it is a move that the Cubs are going to be contemplating this spring and into the early part of the season anyway.

                There are a lot of questions to be answered here, and Olt is just one of them.

                Keep in mind as well that the easiest answer – Olt to 1B/DH – doesn’t force anyone to play out of position. It is essentially risk free and would provide Olt ample time to get comfortable facing competitive pitching at a high level before easing him into the majors.

                It would also provide time in the majors to see what is going to happen with Barney. If he doesn’t hit and Olt does, moving Baez to second and slotting Olt at third starts to make a lot of sense.

                • King Jeff

                  For what it’s worth, Baez said he would prefer to play second if he’s moved off shortstop.

  • David

    He can see! He can see! I love it that there’s a shortcoming if power in the league and we have a $hitload of it. Who will we trade and when?????

    • ssckelley

      Or how about if we hoard all the power and simply out-slug the competition?

      • Rich H

        I like option B. Plenty of option B!

    • Darth Ivy

      If I ever meet Olt, I’m gonna ask him where the pool of Siloam is

  • PaducahCubFan

    First off, it’s great knowing Brett is there in person. Thanks for making the trip! Secondly, at some point, all of this infield talent has to get traded/flipped/sold on eBay for some arms? Am I right?

    • Coldneck

      Not necessarily. It’s very unlikely they will all pan out. You have to think that either Baez or Bryant will move to LF. The following is a best case scenario that fits them all together.

      C – Castillo
      1B – Rizzo
      2B – Baez
      3B – Olt
      SS – Castro
      LF – Bryant
      CF – Almora
      RF – Soler
      Util – Alcantara, Lake

      But 50% of the above will go bust.

      • Jed Jam Band

        You forgot about Villanueva.

        • http://BleacherNation blewett

          Villanueva gets traded for pitching!

      • Eternal Pessimist

        It will be a cold day in hell before a premium prospect playing the premium infield position is demoted all the way to the outfield. Even Die Hard isn’t that crazy…right?

      • another JP

        No way. At the most two on that list won’t make it, and I can see every one of them having at least 5-8 cumulative WAR minimum in the bigs.

  • YourResidentJag

    Mike Olt on his day today. Sound is a little off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBDe8hEHmjA

    • Eternal Pessimist

      If you watch the video closely, his eyelids look a little sticky.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        You’re just being cute, right?

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Yes…maybe it’s time for an “OBSESSIVE PARANOIA WATCH”

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

            It would be a great MB thing to do along with OBSESSIVE OVERREACTION WATCH!

            • Eternal Pessimist

              I may have come off a little snarky, though unintentional!

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

                Snarky is never unintentional ;)

                • Eternal Pessimist

                  …or I was just shooting for a more “subliminal” snark.

  • Dingo

    Nice work Brett. We will make a scout out of you yet

  • waffle

    Pitching is so hit and miss year to year. Not that we shouldn’t emphasize acquiring it…of course, but I’d be pretty happy if we could develop a young, competitive, decent defensively starting 9 and then hope to lock up one or 2 top tier starters and then hope that we are able to fill in the blanks from the minors or one year wonder FA’s.

  • ssckelley

    Carlos Pimentel is impressing early, I look forward to seeing him at Iowa.

  • Fastball

    Even if Olt doesn’t break with the big league club I think he gets called up around May 1st. I am going to make a bold prediction. He will be rookie of the year only because Baez won’t have enough at bats after he gets called to qualify. I have had a gut feeling about him since we got him in trade.

  • David

    Brett – Baez looks big/ muscular. Is he, or will he get too big for short in your eyes/ opinion?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He didn’t play today, so I haven’t seen him live – just a little video. I think Parks’ assessment sounded pretty spot on: he’s got such a powerful lower half that you can project his top half will fill out, at which point he won’t “look” like a shortstop anymore. Can he still have the range and quickness from that point on? Hard to say. Definitely looks the part now, though.

      • Ivy Walls

        Baez:
        HT: 6’0”
        WT: 195

        Tulowitzki
        HT: 6’3”
        WT: 215

        Álex Rodríguez

        Height: 6′ 3″,
        Weight: 225 lb.

        Derek Jeter
        Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 195 lb.

        Cal Ripken
        Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 200 lb

        Starlin Castro
        Height: 5′ 10″, Weight: 190 lb.

    • Darth Ivy
  • Ed

    Brett,
    Not baseball related, but should we take the taking down of the bears bn short cut as the bears site is over?

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

      Good question

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

      What happened to the bears site? I didn’t read often, so I’m just curious.

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

        It’s still there and had comments as of today so the link missing might be something else completely.

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

          Maybe the amazon link pushed it off the link bar? I haven’t noticed I have site linked as a bookmark but don’t look there too often since I only have time to obsess about baseball. Those of you that can actively obsess over multiple sports amazes me I can barely keep up with baseball.

          • Patrick W.

            No the link is definitely gone and there is nothing in its place. It coexisted with the fantastic everyone should use it daily amazon link.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        With no updates in a month, I’m guessing it’s dead in it’s current format.

  • Ivy Walls

    When was the last time a SS who last was in AA hit a 450 bomb for the Cubs?
    When was the last time a 3B jacked one 420 when last in A?

    • Kyle

      I remember Kevin Orie launching some monster homers in ST that caused one coach to say “It’s about time we had a Rookie of the Year.”

  • http://BN Sacko

    I’m getting more convinced that Almora should not be compared to Barney.. long long argument about that yesterday…I didn’t like the comparison other then both contact hitters.
    I see Almora having more power, faster and not worried about his job after three seasons..
    I’m guessing Barney is concerned. Almora won’t be. Thats no comparison.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That opinion probably isn’t worth the pixels that have been spent on it.

    • AB1980

      Almora was much , much better than Barney at the same level while also being two years younger. Anyone making that argument really doesn’t know what they are talking about in terms of prospects.

      • blublud

        There we’re a lot o prospect that was much much better than Barney while being younger in the minors and didn’t have any success in the majors. Makeup, Barney is almost a perfect comp for Almora.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          A SLS Solid Rocket Booster is almost a perfect comp for a little model rocket engine.

          Except for the fact that everyone and their blind 3B prospects know that Almora would be able to outhit Barney today.

          • blublud

            If Almora was promoted to the bigs right now, he would be one of the worse hitters in baseball.

            • Jason P

              Oliver projects he would already be much better than Barney.

              • Kyle

                I wonder why Oliver was chosen and not Steamer or ZIPS (well, I’m not sure if ZIPS did Almora, so that might be it).

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  His FG page doesn’t have ZIPS and Steamer only gave him 1 PA which makes their triple slash weird.

                • Jason P

                  Yeah, there were only 2 projection systems that did him. Oliver was the more optimistic, but both project him to be better than Barney was last year.

                  • Kyle

                    “better than Barney” and “better than Barney was last year” are not synonymous.

                    Barney is also better than Barney was last year.

    • blublud

      Not that Barney is fast, but Almora is not faster by any means. If by faster, you mean slower, then you are correct. Also, no one is saying one is as good as the other, just that their makeup and profile is similar. Low walk rates, low SO rates, high contact, lots of singles, great defenders. My original point has been misquoted so many times, that it is pitiful.

      At any point, until Almora plays in the bigs, Barney is still the better ball player. There are a lot of top prospects on the top 100 list who will never have the success of Darwin Barney and never provide the WAR that Barney has provided so far. That doesn’t just go for Almora, but Baez, Soler, Bryant, Vogelbach, Alcantara and any prospect in baseball. If all top prospects all panned out, Barney wouldn’t have a job to start with.

      • Jason P

        “Also, no one is saying one is as good as the other, just that their makeup and profile is similar”

        So to be clear, are you or are you not saying that you think Almora will develop into a center field-playing version of Darwin Barney.

        • blublud

          I think he very close to a CF playing version of Darwin Barney.

          • Bill

            Barney is a terrible hitter. It won’t take a monumental feat to be a better hitter than Darwin Barney. He’ll also have more power than Barney. I will admit, it would be nice to see Almora’s BB rate go up a little this year.

          • ssckelley

            Come on blub, you are trolling us now. Every statistical, “eye test”, and scouts show that Almora has a much much higher ceiling than Darwin Barney. At no point when Barney was drafted or coming up through the minors did anybody think Barney would be a + WAR hitter at the MLB level, not anywhere close to Almora’s projections.

            I remember watching Barney at Iowa and I never dreamed he would be an every day player for the Cubs and I was shocked when he won the 2nd base job in 2011. Barney is nothing more than a singles hitter, he does not drive the ball with authority or take a lot of walks to get on base. Without GG defense he would not have been anything more than a utility player.

            • blublud

              Once, saying he is a Barney type player is not saying he will put up barney stats, just that he relies a lot on singles, makes a lot of contact, plays good defense, and even the leadership quality. Like I said, my original point has been twisted so many ways, that the narrative has become he’ll only match Barney stats. I have said numerous time, he’ll probably better Barney(probably, because it’s not certain) stats. It doesn’t change the fact that they are similar players. Almora is just better than Barney at being that type of player.

              • ssckelley

                Taking defense out of the equation, do you believe that Almora can some day hit enough to justify playing every day in center field?

                • blublud

                  Let me explain why I’m really down on Almora, and why, for example, I have liked Vogs over him.

                  Almora is great defensively. However, how long will he be great. I have always question his speed in CF, and now so are a few scouts. He does have great instincts, but as he slows down, those instincts are not going to be enough to keep him a great defender. Remember, he isnot going to get any faster, but he will get slower. He will hit .280 in the bigs, I believe, which is great for a CF, but he will not walk enough to make it significant. Remember, BA is not everything.

                  I hate when they say guys will develop power. Its true, they can. But for everyone one that does, there is probably 20 that never does. Look at Addison Russell, who the Cubs should have drafted. He has already developed a decent amount of power, and is still more athletic than Almora. Dahl, who missed a lot of time, but has already shown power potential, and is as athletic as Almora. Remember, scouts thought Castro would be a consistent 20+ HR guy eventually. We’re still waiting.

                  Now compare Almora to Vogs. Vogs will hit, and will do so in the Majors. Vogs had matched, or out produced Almora, and has done so, though briefly, at a higher level. He has a great K rate, high Walk rate, great approach, and power. And believe it or not, he is about as fast as Almora. If he gets to league, and hits but sucks on defense, he’ll still have a job. There are even some NL teams that would love him at first even with the bad defense. If Almora get to league, is great defensively, but can’t hit, or walk enough to make the hitting count, he become a fringe guy. I’m not confident he’ll even walk enough, or hit enough to overcome the lack of walks. If the scenario love plays out, Vogs will be around much longer than Almora.

                  • ssckelley

                    Blub, that did not answer my question. Taking defense out of the equation, or pretend for a minute he was just an average center fielder, do you believe that he can be a + hitter for that position?

                    • blublud

                      I don’t know what plus hitter is for that position is. But I think he can be a 280/310/390/700. I think I would take that for a gold glove CF. If he become anything less than a great CF, he becomes replaceable.

                    • ssckelley

                      I don’t know what is average either for center field but I would think your projections would be close. See that is what makes your comparisons to Barney so horrible as Barney does not hit enough to play every day even at 2nd base, his defense is what carries him. Even if all Almora becomes is just an average hitter for a center fielder then he will surpass Barney by a long shot.

                    • blublud

                      Once again, I never said he wouldn’t outproduce Barney offensively. In fact, I have consistently said he will outproduce Barney. That still doesn’t mean he is not a similar player to barney. I could say Almora is a Castro type player, but Castro doesn’t play defense enough to compare Almora to him.

                      Baez is a Mark Reynolds type player. Doesn’t mean Baez wont be better, but he is that type of player. Its just means the have similar game. You can have similar games and have one be better than the other at doing it.

                    • jp3

                      Blublud, diehard says you’re being ridiculous in your comparison of Almora to Barney. That is all

                    • ssckelley

                      I can see that you will never admit you are wrong about the comparison, even though you have admitted Almora will probably be a much better hitter than Barney. I can understand the Mark Reynolds comparisons to Baez, at least offensively, even your comparisons of Almora to Castro are much better. On a side note, funny you mention Castro as I think he would make one hell of a center fielder. But your comparisons of Almora to Barney are way off.

                    • blublud

                      That’s funny Kelley. I believe Barney and Castro are similar type players, minus defense.

                    • ssckelley

                      [img]https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS_dM1VOevEgN1wnvwuWpRChfyBzF9-KDOlNQ-eBCowErpL7dZvdg[/img]

                  • Norm

                    Stopped reading at Vogs is about as fast as Almora.
                    Should’ve stopped sooner.

                    • blublud

                      Norm, Look up there speed times, they are closer than you think. Vogs is faster and more athletic than a lot of people think.

                    • ssckelley

                      Vogs did steal 5 bases last season, and this was before he lost the weight. People were so quick to judge Vogs by looking at him but this is where I agree with Blub, he is more athletic than people think.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Almora has always been given an average rating for speed. Now, some folks see that he is a plus CF defender and automatically assume this means burner. The reports we have been hearing this winter is that he has 45 speed and not 50.

                      Vogelbach was initially reported to have 20 speed (as in as fast as a Molina with another Molina on his back). Since then, reports are trickling out that he has better than advertised speed, somewhere around 35 is one I saw last fall.

                      Almora is no Jacoby Ellsbury but he is certainly faster than Vogelbach.

                    • Norm

                      Speed times? Please show me where you see speed times.
                      Vogelbach is nowhere NEAR Almora in running speed. This is about as ridiculous a statement as can possibly be made on this board, and that’s saying a lot.

                    • blublud

                      Notice I didn’t say he was as fast as Almora, but about as fast. That means close. Near. Almost. If Hans have them at 35-45 that’s close. Near. Almost. In the past, Almora speed was perceived to be faster than it is and Vogs slower than it is. Almora is faster than Vogs. I never said he wasnt. You guys love twisting words, it hilarious.

                      Now that Vogs has lost weight, let’s see if he pulls even closer.

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    ” He does have great instincts, but as he slows down, those instincts are not going to be enough to keep him a great defender.”

                    Do I really need to spend 5 minutes compiling a list of CF without good speed whose instincts allowed them to be good defenders until past their prime?

                    “If he gets to league, and hits but sucks on defense, he’ll still have a job”

                    When is that not true? The problem with Vogelbach has always been that he was a minus defender at first base. In order to overcome that his hit tool needs to be REALLY good to justify a roster spot.

                    Now, it appears he has been busting his ass to get his weight down and his defense up. The issue still remains, though, since he is incapable of playing anywhere but 1B, he is going to have to have to OPS well north of .750 to stay in the bigs.

                    “Remember, BA is not everything. ”

                    WHA?????

                    “Vogs had matched, or out produced Almora, and has done so, though briefly, at a higher level. He has a great K rate, high Walk rate, great approach, and power.”

                    Almora has a better K rate. In fact, his ability to avoid Ks is what will help him overcome any potential deficit in taking BBs (although, he does appear to be a player that will never take many walks simply because not many pitchers can get 4 balls past him before they throw him one he can hit). Check out this link:

                    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/11/4/4812832/success-rates-for-single-a-league-prospects-based-on-walk-and

                    Almora’s lack of walking doesn’t mean diddly because he is amazing at not striking out.

                  • Edwin

                    I’m worried about the drop in Vogs power last season. There’s just some much pressure on his bat to carry him to the majors, he seems risky to me.

                    I think that Almora can still be a plus defender in the OF, even if he slows down and moves to a corner spot. He’s not fast, but it’s not like he’s wearing cement shoes out there. And it wouldn’t take much improvement for his bat to provide plus value in the OF. He’s not going to be your power corner OF, but he could easily fit in with the David DeJesus type OF’s.

                    At this point, I’m more hopefull of Almora than Vogs.

                    • blublud

                      The problem is, you don’t want Dejesus in RF or LF field everyday on a good team. If Almora becomes a corner outfielder, he is probably no longer an everyday player on a good team. He has to stay in CF to be valuable.

                    • Edwin

                      I think he needs to stay in CF to be an “impact” player. But he can still move to a corner OF spot and put up 2-3 WAR per season, which is still valuable.

                      And there’s a good chance that even with below average speed, he can still handle CF. He might not be able to play eltie defesne, but he could still be one of the better fielding CF in the game.

                      And again, as much as I like Vogs as a prospect, he still has all of his value tied into his bat. If his bat slows down at all, he’s done as a prospect.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                That’s it though. He doesn’t rely on a lot of singles like Barney would have at age 19. But I guess we shouldn’t expect Almora to add any power.

            • Diehardthefirst

              So he proved to you that he rises to the challenge which indicates optimism for the move to SS

              • ssckelley

                Possibly, if Barney returns to hitting enough singles like he did in 2011 or 2012. On a real good offensive team you can bury a guy like Barney in the #8 or #9 (in the AL) spot in your lineup at either SS or 2nd since his glove will make up for his offensive shortcomings. But again he has to hit more than he did last season.

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

                  Meh a good hitting poor defensive player even at shortstop (see Jeter) is always better than a poor hitting great defensive player. Hitting is what you want being great defensively is just amazing. Catcher is the only position where defensive (and framing, pitch calling etc) is more important than hitting.

                  • ssckelley

                    I agree, like I said on a good offensive team you can get away with having a + defender at short or 2nd. I always laugh at Hans when he says stick some great bat with poor defense at shortstop (like Abreu or Vogs), while he might be joking he makes a good point that being a great hitter can cover up defensive shortcomings.

                    This is what makes a guy like Baez so valuable, I see people ask about his defense but honestly who cares? If Baez can hit in the middle of the order with that kind of power is a HUGE advantage to have at shortstop.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      They’re all gonna laugh at you!!!!!

                      The thing with Baez is, a lot of scouts still operate on the old premise that guys get too big for SS, or that you want a sure-handed guy there. As K’s go up, plays made by SS go down thereby making defense less important.

                      Now, if you are going to have Castro and Baez on the same team, you stick the better defender at SS (probably Castro) and move Baez down the defensive scale (where his bat will still be plus-plus but his glove will be less average)

                    • blublud

                      Considering I think defense is overrated, this is where I agree with you. Offense is, and always will be, more important.

                    • ssckelley

                      “They’re all gonna laugh at you!!!!!”

                      That’s ok, I laugh at myself all the time.

                      The good news is it appears Baez could at least be an average defensive shortstop. At second he may even be an above average defender. If you can hit like Baez they will find a place to play you.

                      In fact I think they should throw some catchers gear on Baez this spring and see how he does behind the plate.

                      :D

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        “lots of singles”

        With Almora you also get quite a few more XBH.

        • Jason P

          Albert Almora slugging percentage, 2013: .466
          Prince Fielder slugging percentage, 2013: 457

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            That’s only because Almora had thousands and hundreds of singles…which he gave to Barney. (BOOM)

            • blublud

              Speaking of singles. 70% of Almora’s hits are singles, compared to 74% for Darwin Barney. When looking at guys like Baez 47.3% or Rizzo, 58.8%, those guys are consider a singles hitter. Almora hits a ton of singles.

              After further review, however, a better comp might be our own Castro, who is also considered a singles hitter, 71.8%. Also, Castro slash line, which is close to .280/320/400 is a decent scenario for Almora. If he puts up those numbers while playing GG defense in CF, he would be a good player. Not a star, however.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                God I hope you aren’t comparing a 19 year old Almora to current day rizzo or a guy who grades out at 80 power.

                19 yo Rizzo: 63% singles rate
                19 yo Almora: 70%
                23 year old Tony Campana (similar level): 91%
                22 yo Barney: 70%
                19 yo Castro: 79%

                What we learned: Almora has the same power as Barney but while playing 3 years younger. Almora has current power that is between a same aged Castro and Rizzo. Most scouts peg Almora, s future power as somewhere between Castro and Rizzo and double that of Barney.

                You like comparing a 19 year old CF to a near prime 1B and one of the most powerful hitters in the minors and a 23 year old MLBer.

                Take the Almora dislike blinders off.

                • blublud

                  I don’t dislike Almora. God, I hope he turns into Willie Mays. I would love nothing more than for Almora to turn into a perrenial, GG, All-Star CF. I like his leadership potential and his makeup. I like Barneys leadership and makeup. However, Almora is a good, and only good, prospect. He is not great, he is not a star. He is not on, or near, the level of Baez or Bryant. He was not the best choice in the draft. He is overrated because he is Theo’s first Cubs draft pick. He does not have power. He’ll do good to develop as much power as Castro.

                  Also, several scouts have stated that Almora plays above his tools. That’s easy to do at the lower levels, where talent is watered down. How long will he continue to play above his tools. When will the talent at the higher levels become to good for him to play above his tools. Out of the big 4, he has the least amount of tools. He not the type of prospect to get overly excited about. He’ll be a good, everyday player, but not even close to a franchise type of player.

                  • roz

                    You’ve sold me blubud. Despite all of the scouts and national writers saying that Almora is a great prospect, a random anonymous Cubs fan with no apparent professional experience in baseball scouting or analysis has convinced me that Almora is basically Darwin Barney 2.0.

                    • blublud

                      I don’t care about convincing you. I’m not here to convince you or anyone. Besides, Who are you? I have never seen you here before.

                    • blublud

                      Oh yeah, I remember all the scout saying Delmon Young was a can’t miss prospect, and how Dominic Brown was a stud, how Felix Pie was a star, and I came name several more. The big, bad, scouts miss a lot more than you think.

                    • mjhurdle

                      “When given a chance to play, Campy has produced, in AAA”

                      FTFY

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    They’re speaking if his defense and base running. That he plays above his speed because of his baseball instincts and crud like that. Kind of similar to how Yadier Molina has any SB.

                    Whateves, I’ll let Almora prove you wrong as soon as this season like you were proven wrong on Campana.

                    • blublud

                      How have I been proven wrong on Campy. When given a chance to play, Campy has produced.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      He had a 3 week stretch where he had decent production. Other than that, he has been worse than you think Almora would be.

                    • blublud

                      Once again, I don’t think Almora is a bad player, I just think he’s overrated. Also, if I’m wrong on Almora, I will be the first to admit it. Just like I admitted I was wrong on Schierholtz and Valbeuna. I have been right on these issues just as much as I wrong though. I pray Almora proves wrong. It’ll only make my Cubs better.

              • Jason P

                Almora hits a ton of doubles. Including the fall league, he hit 23 this year in 325 plate appearances, which means he was on pace for greater than 40 over the course of a full season.

                You don’t get a .466 slugging percentage by hitting only singles. Barney’s slugging percentage in A-ball was under .400 at .392.

                Barney and Almora are both great fielders with low strikeout and walk rates, but that’s where the comparisons end. Almora has already put up minor league numbers that Barney could never touch.

      • BWA

        By that argument, Starlin Castro is more valuable than Baez. And I’m pretty sure you would say the opposite.

        • blublud

          Valuable. That a tough question between Castro and Baez as of right now. Between Barney and Almora, that’s easy. Almora is more valuable. Almora is also more likely to have a better career. But until he does, Barney is the better player. Castro, right now, is the better player than Baez.

          • Noah_I

            By that logic then Darwin Barney is also a better player, right now, than Baez or Bryant.

            • blublud

              Noah, you sir are correct. I’m high on Baez, and Bryant also, but they still have to prove it in the bits. Barney is currently the better player, but that doesn’t make him more valuable then either of these guys or Almora.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Why did you bring it back up? Here we go again…

    • CubsFaninMS

      I always assumed the Barney/Almora comparison was a joke. Almore, right now, would provide a better MLB WAR than Barney.

      • blublud

        Not so sure about that.

        • CubsFaninMS

          It is an unknown so I agree.

  • waittilthisyear

    be excited cub fans, early in the spring we have three of our most intriguing prospects (Baez Bryant Olt) going deep and the other young guys have done alright as well. this year, i compare to getting stuck in traffic. when you sit still, its maddening, but when your lane is slowly yet consistently moving (i.e. the young guys we rely on continue to reach develop mental checkpoints), its not so hard to smile knowing the destination is both good and oncoming

  • Diehardthefirst

    For Pete’s sake Barney is a gold glove ML player – to compare any minor leaguer to him is ludicrous- the only issue is whether Barney can be the same at SS? If he proves he has this potential over next 10-15 days then that will free up other moves that can only help team knowing can pencil in a good field weak hitting SS for next 3-5 years – enough of erratic leader less SS play from Castro who can be moved to 2B CF or another team preferably the latter- he’s not a winner- Barney is

  • Voice of Reason

    What makes barney a winner opposed to Castro?

    • Diehardthefirst

      Barney proved it in college- Castro hasn’t proven anything other than he’s a decent first pitch hitter who has a knack for tracking down pop flies which indicates OF potential

      • Voice of Reason

        So I guess your point is that you would take barney over Castro?

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

          No the point is it’s best to sit back and enjoy the satirical voice that is die hard.

        • Diehardthefirst

          At SS if can prove has the range and arm

      • JeffR

        And Castro is a 2 time all star who has accumulated more WAR at a much younger age. So how exactly is Barney a winner but Castro is not. Barney has TWTW?

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

          Yes and bottle after bottle of scrappy BellyFire!

        • Diehardthefirst

          Castro hasn’t led a team to anything- Barney was the leader of his college team

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            A freaking argument from silence! This just in: Castro apologizes for spending his youth on shoddy lots with Rube Goldberg equipment and signing with the Cubs at a young age leading to his inability to properly showcase his belly fire.

            In a related story: Oregon coach says he would have loved to have had 19 year old Starlin Castro on his roster.

      • CubsFaninMS

        You’ve been rubbing the Ye Ole Barney Stone.

  • Diehardthefirst

    We are talking field generalship – Barney runs that infield and if can do so at SS then all the better- Castro is a private

    • Voice of Reason

      So what you’re saying is barney is a winner over Castro when it comes to fielding only?

      • Diehardthefirst

        No- he’s a take charge guy who if can handle SS would settle down that IF for years to come- he’s a leader

    • JeffR

      Not true, Castro was the leader of his little league team.

      • Diehardthefirst

        He was the catcher- you can look it up

  • Diehardthefirst

    Did you ever consider that Castro’s recurring hammy issues are because he’s not cut out for the day to day SS grind?

    • bbmoney

      Recurring hammy issues that have caused him to miss so many regular season games…..

      • bbmoney

        I mean he’s only played 323 games the past 2 years. Damn those recurring hamstring issues.

        • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

          In his 3 FULL MLB seasons he has played 481 games out of 486, that is 98.97% of games. His hammy surely cannot hold up to the grind of SS.

          • Noah_I

            Not to mention the fact that his hamstring issues have been (a) extremely minor and (b) at the start of spring training, when he’s had a significant amount of rest before going full speed.

            • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

              (c) in ST when teams are overly careful about any type of muscle tweet ect…..

    • JeffR

      We get it, you hate Castro. But please use actual logic and quit finding dumb reasons.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Castro is going to have a beast of a year. In my wildest dreams, it’s Castro’s 1984. But I’m not going to call that. Just a great year. Back over .300. More SBs. More HRs. Drastically reduced error totals.

      To put numbers on it that I can be held to:
      >.785 OPS | 20 SBs | >14 HRs

      • Diehardthefirst

        He may if not at SS where too much pressure for him

  • roz

    Blubud:

    So because scouts miss on some players, I should believe any yahoo that has an opinion on a prospect? Good one.

    • blublud

      Roz, you should believe whatever you want. I wasnt even talking to you, so you posting about being convinced is pretty odd within itself. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, just explain why I feel a certain way about a subject. Nobody has any facts that will prove that Almora will be as good as Barney, better or worse. We can show likely hood, chances, odds etc etc, but none of it is fact until it happens one way or the other.

      You shouldn’t believe me or a scout. You should take what anyone says and apply it how you feel. I willing to bet, the scout are about as good as you, yourself are. They have more info to be more accurate, but if you had the same info, you would be more accurate. If they were really that great, they be working for teams, not newspapers and websites.

  • Ballgame17

    1. Castro
    2. Bryant
    3. Rizzo
    4. Baez
    5. Schierholtz
    6. Olt
    7. Sweeney
    8. Castillo
    9. SP

    **This is what the lineup should look like come mid-June assuming no trades are made. Baez is ready once he proves he can minimize defensive mistakes at 2B. Bryant should continue killing the ball, so get em up. Let’s go and these 2 immediately make the Cubs worth watching…

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      I’m replying to this mainly to stop the Almora-Barney insanity.

      I like what you’re trying to do here, but I think mid-June is too aggressive. I could be wrong, though. If you’re moving Bryant to the OF, I don’t see him coming up in mid-June (which is a stretch even if he’s staying at 3rd IMO).

      I think mid-June, I’d be quite happy with this line-up:

      1. Castro (SS)
      2. Vitters (LF)
      3. Rizzo (1B)
      4. Olt (3B)
      5. Scheirholtz (RF)
      6. Castillo (C)
      7. Sweeney (CF – or Lake if he hits)
      8. PITCHER (a guy can dream, right?)
      9. Barney (2B)

      • ssckelley

        “I’m replying to this mainly to stop the Almora-Barney insanity.”

        DON’T YOU DARE TAKE A WAY OUR FUN!!!!!!

        *all caps and extra exclamation points added for extra emphasis*

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          DON’T TURN A LINE-UP CONSTRUCTION THREAD INTO AN ALMORA-BARNEY THREAD!!!!!!! #endthedebate #Almora>Barney #hashtag

  • Diehardthefirst

    Apples and oranges Almora Barney comparison

  • half_full_beer_mug

    For all of you guys on Blu for the Almora/Barney thing, why don’t you take a full step back and actually read what he’s been saying.

    I’ve yet to read HIM type that Almora will put up similar hitting stats to Barney at the same age/level.

    I’ve yet to see him type that AA will have the same or lower slash line as Barney.

    I’ve also yet to see him type that when/if Almora makes it to the ML that we will not put up more career WAR than Barney (although that one might be defensible given the wildness of Defensive WAR)

    What I have seen him type is that both are great leaders (check), both have good make up (old school play the game the “right way) (check again), both will rely on singles more than extra base hits (this can’t be proven but I can see his point).

    I understand why everyone wants to slam him since we all want all of the “Big 4/5″ to make a big splash for the Cubs, but what he’s actually typing on the comments isn’t as unreasonable as many of you are acting like.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Go back far enough–this debate has been going on for a couple days. Blu shifted the goal posts sometime yesterday afternoon. I don’t want to get into it; I largely stayed out of it. But I read the threads.

      • ssckelley

        Actually it was some time either late last summer or fall that this debate sparked. In fact Hans was making a joke about it yesterday and then one thing led to another.

        But hey, it is spring training so we might as well get ourselves into mid season form early. If you have been around long enough you know these types of debates spark up all the time during the season. It has been fun.

      • blublud

        ClevelandCubsfan, I have never shifted the goal post. Everything I said, I’ve been saying since last season. The whole Congo is in this one post, so how did I shift the goal post yesterday. You have no idea what the hell you are talking about. But you live in Cleveland. A miserable place must be why you are so lost.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          Blublud, not trying to start anything. But that’s the way it seemed to me. And if it did, it probably seemed that way to others. It seemed like you were saying you projected Almora to be a similar hitter to Barney. A few hours and a billion posts later, it seemed like the discussion was being reframed in terms of who is the better player right now and that the MLB gold-glover was clearly better than the minor league center fielder.

          Maybe you didn’t move the goal posts, but I think what a lot of people were taking from your posts was: First, Almora will be like Barney with the bat. Second, well sure they’re different in some ways, but clearly Barney is better right now. (But I don’t think anyone really disagrees with that second point.)

          Like I said, I tried to stay out of it. But I read most of it, and that’s what I came away from it with.

          • blublud

            Cleveland, this is my last post on the convo. I just happen to go to an open window on my phone and seen these report’s.

            Saying Almora is a Darwin Barney type, and saying Barney is better right now is not moving the goalposts. Its two entirely different points. I’ll tell you any player in the majors is better than any minor leaguer, including Byron Buxton, who I think is an absolute stud, because the big leaguer has already made it and the prospect is still trying to get there. Ask me who of the two will be better, you get a different answer.

            Example. It is my opinion that Miguel Cabrera is currently a better player than Trout, but if healthy, I Think Trout will have the better career when its all said and done.

    • blublud

      Its OK, guys here would rather create their own narrative.

      • http://BN Sacko

        You sound like a desperate defensive individual that has twisted your story into a calamity. Your desperation is becoming amusing in your passive aggressive attempts.
        Stubborn is taking an opinion and insisting it is a fact.
        Almora is not a below average center fielder in speed. If he was he would not be projected to play center in the bigs. He’s faster then Barney I’d bet on it.

        • blublud

          Wow Sacko, I’m just now seeing this. I will go out on the limb and say Barney being faster than Almora is pretty much a fact. Barney is no burner, but he an above average runner. Almora is average at best, and probably below average. Thats not opinion, thats fact. You must have never read a scouting report on either player.

          Your attempt to call some one out for stating a fact, when I have said my view is my opinion numerous times, and then to try to discredit that with a “fact” that is incorrect itself makes you look pretty pathetic.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Name calling..ok since you are so full of shit and yourself hows this quote “his speed will also allow him to steal bases and take an extra base on unsuspecting defenders” Doesn’t sound like below average to me idiot. He’s a CFer projected to be a CFer in the majors. Center Fielder! So even if he has average speed for..a CFer..is Much faster then Barney. So you played a little BB so have I. I don’t carry on like you do with your desperation to convince somebody on your opinions that you believe so strongly you most think they r facts.
    Watch your name calling I don’t like it and didn’t apply any to you from the start. I’ll blast you on every post until you return to earth and be sensible.
    You twisted yourself again..first you are going “out on a limb” then you claim a “fact”..Which one? Do you see what you do to yourself? You encourage controversy and argument.

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

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

Google+