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mike olt iowaA handful of prospect notes to round out your week …

  • Ken Rosenthal says that the Cubs “would love” for Mike Olt to win the third base job out of Spring Training, because of how well it would set up the rest of their prospects at third base (Christian Villanueva at AAA, Kris Bryant at AA, and Jeimer Candelario at High-A). You can’t tell from the way Rosenthal wrote it whether he’s reporting that the Cubs affirmatively want that, or whether he’s just stating what he presumes is obvious. Either way, I mean, sure, the Cubs would probably very much like if Olt demonstrated that he is clearly ready to start at third in the bigs, and took the job and ran with it. The question is whether the Cubs believe that’s a reasonable outcome of Spring Training, given Olt’s 2013 struggles. I still think it’s more likely that Olt starts the year at AAA so that he can establish himself (hopefully) over the course of a month or two, gain some confidence, and prove he’s back to where he was in 2012. Not only might that be the best approach for the Cubs, but, it might also be the best route to take developmentally for Olt.
  • All that said: if the Cubs believe there would be nothing to be gained by sending Olt to AAA, and if they believe he’s the best option for third base on day one, then of course, bring him to Chicago. No argument here, and that’s a clear best case scenario.
  • With minor league camp officially opening yesterday, TCR’s Arizona Phil is Johnny on the Spot with the full minor league rosters. Keep in mind: guys are frequently assigned to high levels, and then trickle down as there are cuts from big league camp. In other words, if a guy is three levels higher than you’d otherwise expect him, that might be noteworthy. But the fact that, for example, Dan Vogelbach shows up on Tennessee’s roster as opposed to Daytona’s doesn’t really mean anything in terms of where he’ll start the year. Miscellaneous things to note: Trey McNutt is still in the organization, though he’s rehabbing some kind of injury; Jordan Hankins and Ben Carhart are now working as catchers; Gleyber Torres is listed as not yet present, which could be a visa thing, or could just be that he was inside for some reason today (if Eloy Jimenez is there, we’d expect Torres to be there, too).
  • Rick Renteria spoke at length about outfield prospect Jorge Soler (Patrick Mooney, Carrie Muskat), and had nothing but complimentary things to say about Soler’s approach and work. It’s just going to take some time for him to get on track after the long defection layoff and then missing half of the year in 2013.
  • An interview with Cubs 1B/3B prospect Dustin Geiger, who put himself on the radar over the past two years, showing a nice power/discipline combo. You can tentatively slate Geiger to start at 1B for Tennessee this year at age 22, and his power is something to keep tracking. He’s hit 34 homers in his last 198 games, split between Low-A and High-A (and neither are hugely offense-friendly leagues).
  • BenRoethig

    At this point, I wonder if you almost have to give the job to Olt ready or not. There’s no place for him in AAA without switching positions

    • itzscott

      What if Villanueva or Bryant end up having much better springs?

      Do they get given the job so the balance remains or do they potentially sacrifice Olt, even if he may not be ready, for the sake of balance because they feel Bryant or Villanueva will eventually be better options?

      • Voice of Reason

        It’s more than just Spring Training that is considered for any position.

        If Vogelbach has a better spring than Rizzo then Vobelbach takes over first base?

        • itzscott

          No… that’s why the concept of giving Olt the 3rd base job if he doesn’t show he’s ready in ST is nuts. It could end up destroying him and his trade value going forward could be meaningless.

          That’s a huge risk. Better to shuffle things around in the minors to accommodate them all.

          • Jon

            He’s 25 and will be 26 in August. They are not going to destroy him. He pretty much is what he is at this point, either way.

          • Kyle

            “No… that’s why the concept of giving Olt the 3rd base job if he doesn’t show he’s ready in ST is nuts. It could end up destroying him and his trade value going forward could be meaningless.”

            Yeah, there’s tons of trade value for 25-year-old AAAers who can’t beat out Donnie Murphy for jobs.

            • another JP

              You said it pal, including failed 3B that couldn’t beat out Murphy and are now trying to latch onto a position in LF.

          • Napercal

            If he hits at all in ST there is no reason to send him to AAA. Why wait? If he’s over his eye issues, he should be able to demonstrate that quickly. One would assume that he has been working out over the winter and didn’t come to ST without picking up a bat. IMHO the whole idea of having a strong layered farm system is that guys at the top get pushed by the players in the pipeline. Well the pipeline at 3B, 1B and in the OF is pretty full right now. This is a great problem and what all of us have been waiting for. I would be just fine if Murphy and Valbuena never set foot at third base in a Cub uniform ever again. Barring an injury, put Olt out there and let’s see what we got. If it works out … awesome. If not, Next!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, but he’s not going to forget how to play 3B in a couple months. He can split his time between 3B/1B/DH, and not really be any worse for the wear, positionally-speaking (and Villanueva would be fine, too).

      • Webb

        Does Luke still write for the site? I can’t remember seeing a piece from him in quite a while….

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Still here.

          As I said in my last Prospects Progress piece, after that my focus shifted to working on the Bleacher Nation Top 40 and my annual review of organizational depth on a positional basis.

          I don’t have any firm ETA for those pieces yet, but they should be ready soon.

          • Webb

            Awesome! Thanks for the update. I actually remember the comment in your last piece about the top 40. Had an impression it would come before ST for some reason. Glad you hear (read) all your fingers are still intact and nobody busted your thumbs hustling 9-ball.

  • itzscott

    >> Rick Renteria spoke at length about outfield prospect Jorge Soler (Patrick Mooney, Carrie Muskat), and had nothing but complimentary things to say about Soler’s approach and work. <<

    I don't think it's in Happy's repertoire to say something sad about someone. So I also don't think he'd be the best source to rely on when it comes to evaluations.

  • Voice of Reason

    I believe that Olt will break camp as the starting third baseman.

    I think the front office will look at it as a chance to show the fans a piece of the rebuild. Also, with the other shitty options at third base what do they have to lose?

    If Olt doesn’t make it and is sent back down then it’s not as big of a deal as if Baez starts the year at second then stumbles and is sent back down. There are such high hopes for Baez as one of the “big 4″.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Also, with the other shitty options at third base what do they have to lose?”

      The third base platoon(s) last year were highly effective.

      • Voice of Reason

        Just the fact that the front office wants Olt to break camp as the starting third baseman leads me to believe they have the same feeling as me about the third base options in 2014.

        If they were comfortable with a Valbuena/whomever platoon then they would come out and say that Olt is better off getting confidence in the minors to start the season.

      • terencemann

        The cubs can almost platoon a ~2 win tandem at 3rd (league average) so I think the perception of their 3rd base situation is worse than it actually is. There are teams who are far worse off.

      • JB88

        Effective, but is it really the best use of roster space? I mean in a perfect world, don’t you want one starter at a position to better allocate use of a roster spot elsewhere?

        • Chad

          Obviously you would prefer your utility guy to be versatile, but I think there is some versatility there. Either Valbuena or Murphy could play 2B and Murphy could play some SS as well. Barney can play SS as well. I just don’t think you saw it very much last year due to the Sveum love fest with Barney.

    • Cizzle

      No cookies for you!

  • JB88

    I realize that it is Rosenthal’s style, but his writing is maddening. It is nearly impossible to tell whether he is an insider or is just speculating. Given how often he’s wrong, I’d guess the latter, but still …

  • BD

    Shouldn’t there be a conversation about service regarding Olt? I guess I’m just not sure why he is exempt. (and honestly, it could be that I just don’t know. I don’t spend a lot of time on looking at service time)

    • Norm

      My guess is:
      He’s not a star, or worth worrying about service time.
      He’s 25….which means even if he starts opening day, he’s not a free agent until age 31 anyway. So he’s already locked up through his prime years.

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

        If he can hit .250, he should be able to put up an .800 OPS. He’s not star but if he didn’t have those 63 days of service time already, it’d be very worth the time to discuss holding him back for a month.

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

      Olt already has a decent chunk of service time. In order to gain his age 31 season you’d have to hold him back until mid-June.

      Does sacrificing a half-a-season of prime for a year of near-post-prime make sense?

      Comparing his situation to Baez, you’d be sacrificing a month of pre-prime for a year of prime.

      • C. Steadman

        ^yup^

      • BD

        I guess I’m comparing it more as the first 6 months of his prime (which are basically his first 6 months as an everyday starter, or possibly still pre-prime since prime isn’t the same for every player) to a year at age 31 that could still be productive for a non-speed player with a premium glove.

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

          If they think he needs some time in AAA, then it makes sense to hold him until June 15th-ish.

          If they think he is ready now, and Valbuena/Murphy/Bonifacio aren’t looking like they will do much more than they have shown aleady, there is value in bringing him up right away.

          If they think he is ready now and V/M/B should be able to provide value, does it make sense to call him up? A few months in Iowa won’t ruin him and if he won’t provide much more value than the V/M/B group, might as well get that extra year.

      • 70’s Cub

        Hansman, I hope for the Cubs sake they don’t play “hold” games on players to get extra years cheap. Azz holes that hold back progress by being dishonest with player promotions deserve to be in last place, at this point in time the Cub FO has not held any talent back to save future potential money. The Cubs with the new investments in facilities and player development programs are trying to ensure acquired talent has the best opportunity maximize their MLB baseball career.

        • ari gold

          so you don’t want the Cubs to act like literally every other team in baseball?

        • ssckelley

          Unless you are making a playoff run then this makes no sense and would not be a good business decision by the FO. Player control is a big commodity, they should not throw it away in a worthless season.

          • 70’s Cub

            Not true the Card’s/Braves move players up based on performance they have successful operations as their reputation of being reputable in terms of the player, speaks volumes to the industry. Cheap organizations at times can’t sign picks! AS long as the Cubs are starting over the right thing to do is just what they are doing building and running a first rate operation. Holding earned merit back is stupid!

            • BT

              Teaheran, Simmons, and Medlin (literally the first 3 guys I looked up) all came up in May or June for their first non September call ups (though I spent about 5 seconds on this, have been drinking, and easily could have made a mistake). None of them broke camp with the Braves in April. It’s certainly possible that was the magical time when they “deserved it”, but more than likely, it’s when the Braves thought they would save some money down the line.

              My guess is you will find similar results if you check out the Cardinals. This is standard operating procedure.

              • 70’s Cub

                They the young Braves were still young! OLt is 25 for god’s sake if he is ready put him in the line-up. Moving young guys like Rizzo is another story mid season when it is warm, may help a young player get rolling. This conversation started by hoping the Cub FO would hold up a 25 year old player to lock up until 31. Holding guys down would suck the life out of player development. No worries, I’m enjoying a few as well I have been In the ATL the last 25 years the Braves generate great talent.

            • 70’s Cub

              ssckelley, they should “never throw it away” in terms of the Cub FO business ethics, above replacement players are not a commodity they are a scarce resource. Mostly every flipped Cub was able to use the opportunity to better negotiate a future contract add Feldman+Garza+Dempster = big contract obtained. Teaching/Coaching young players multi positions multi pitches allows the player to max out their MLB talent “income” that is all the Cub system needs to be known as. Talent finds opportunity…

  • Jon

    Geiger is really intriguing. Another great get by Theo and Jed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Geiger was drafted in 2010. The Cubs were still under Hendry at the time.

      • Kyle

        I think he knew that.

    • Jason P

      He’s a fut

      • Jason P

        Oops, hit submit too early :)

        He’s a future full time pinch hitter, most likely. Every system has Geiger’s in it, even the bad ones.

  • Hebner The Gravedigger

    Brett, Would you mind providing the link to use when ordering on Amazon? I had to put the brakes on my wife’s order last night so that we can support BN!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Look to the top of the page. It is right under the Bleacher Nation logo.

    • ssckelley

      I recently ordered my daughter a new laptop using the Amazon link.

      • Voice of Reason

        I recently stayed at a Red Roof Inn.

        • itzscott

          I got a great deal on my car insurance

  • Spoda17

    I don’t quite understand why we would send Olt to AAA. I actually see Olt as a better chance of succeeding than Lake, but how is Olt any different than Lake. He is guaranteed a MLB job and I just recall him “tearing up” AAA. He was brought up because of necessity, and now guaranteed a job… As far as I am concerned, Olt is old enough, and give him a shot to prove he can play in the majors. It’s not like he is 21, and never been anywhere… he spent time in the majors with Texas…

    • ssckelley

      But after the season Olt had last year I think some time at AAA would be beneficial. This should be about what is best for Olt, not what is best for the MLB team.

      • Noah_I

        What’s best for Olt and what’s best for the MLB team should be the same thing. If the MLB team is convinced Olt is ready for the MLB team and that there’s little benefit to him or the club from going to Iowa, he should be on the MLB team.

        So I’d revise your statement to just say “this should be about what is best for Olt and the MLB team, not the player the fans would prefer to see on Opening Day.” Our wishes for who should be on the roster are, and should be, irrelevant to the decision makers.

        • ssckelley

          I stand by my statement. You do what is best for both Olt and the MLB team when you are trying to make the playoffs. Since making a playoff run this year is not the plan then they should do what is best for the development of these players.

          • Noah_I

            Right, and what is best for the team is what is best for Olt’s development. I’m not seeing how those things are mutually exclusive, especially considering the extremely high level Olt would have to perform at to surpass the value the 3B platoon provided last season.

    • Noah_I

      The one part where you’re incorrect is that Olt never tore up Triple A. His breakout season in 2012 was in Double A, and he was called directly up to the Majors from there before struggling in Triple A in 2013.

      Aside from that, though, I generally agree with you that I think Olt has a much better chance of succeeding in the Majors than Lake. They strike out about the same amount, but Olt walks twice as much, has more power, and his defensive projection is easier to make because he’s spent so much time at the position in the minors. Olt may very well just be a question of if his eyes are fixed. If the problem he had last year was the eyes, and if that issue has been resolved, Olt projects to a lower average (.250-.260 average) but solidly above average OBP due to high walk rate (.350ish OBP) with solidly above average power (.450ish slugging) while providing plus defense at 3B. If Olt is able to show he is that at the Major League level, either he’s a very valuable trading chip or he allows the Cubs to turn other players and prospects (potentially Castro, Alcantara) into trade bait for pitching. But if he’s irretrievably broken, I don’t think time in Iowa is going to help that.

  • David

    Brett – I wouldn’t necessarily expect Torres to be there just because Jimenez is, as Torres is from Venezuela and Eloy is from the Dominican. Could be some issues related to that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I mean in terms of their expected prospect stature/ability.

      • David

        Oh, I realize that. Just saying there’s probably good reason for Torres not to be there right now even though he’s likely supposed to be.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      I have to wonder with all the problems going on in Venezuela is a factor with Torres? Crime is rampant there. Recently a former miss Venezuela and her husband were murdered during a robbery when their car broke down and they were waiting for a tow truck to arrive. And I can’t remember the player, but an MLB player was abducted during the offseason last year for ransom ( no not Cody Ransom ). Having lived in Panama I can tell you that Venezuela is a country that I wouldn’t set foot in. It has become like Colombia was 10 years ago. I have talked to some American people that have worked there as contractors and they all told the same story.

  • itzscott

    I actually think that Olt will be ok at 3rd with the Cubs coming out of ST and this whole angst and argument is moot.

  • MightyBear

    Brett, that should be 2013 struggles. He tore it up in 2012.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah. Gracias.

      • MightyBear

        De Nada

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The problem as I see it is that if Olt is given the job out of spring training then we probably are going to have to cut Murphy. Seeing that Valbuena and Bonafacio both fit the utility role I just can’t see carrying three utility types on the 25 man roster. The danger is that if Olt get’s the job and we have to cut an infielder, that then if Olt struggles and has to be sent down we have lost our platoon at third. For that reasoning I doubt that Olt is on the opening day roster. It would be more prudent to stash him in Iowa for six to eight weeks to be sure that he is hitting. Of course there is always the possibility that he could get hot in ST and put that doubt to rest. The other factor in play if Olt does win the third base job is the log jam it creates at 2nd base. The platoon at 3rd being removed the emphasis is on 2nd base with possible platoon of Valbuena and Barney. If I were Donnie Murphy I would keep a suitcase packed.

    • ssckelley

      Not necessarily, the Cubs do have Ryan Roberts signed to a minor league deal.

    • Noah_I

      I don’t think we have to cut Murphy, because Bonifacio could end up in the fifth outfielder role. So what you’d end up with, presuming we have 13 position players and 12 pitchers, is:

      C Castillo
      C Kottaras
      1B Rizzo
      SS Castro
      3B Olt
      IF Barney
      IF Valbuena
      IF Murphy
      UT Bonifacio
      OF Sweeney
      OF Schierholtz
      OF Lake
      OF Ruggiano

      Murphy’s starts might be pretty limited, maybe getting something like a start every other week at 1B against tough LHPs, but the Cubs could definitely keep him in a back up role.

      Just as a note, I list Barney as IF instead of 2B because, if Olt wins the 3B job out of spring training, I’m not convinced that Barney will be the starter at 2B over Valbuena, at least against right handed pitching.

      This would also make sense with what I presume to be the Cubs’ preferred moves regarding their flip candidates in trades and back up options in case Lake fails, especially in the outfield. I think the Cubs want Kalish and Vitters getting every day plate appearances in Iowa, with Kalish being the likely insertion into RF when Schierholtz is flipped and Vitters being the second option if Lake does not produce this year. Should Jackson perform well in Iowa this season, you could see the Cubs move Sweeney as well, but I’m not counting on either of those moves.

      On the infield, I could see everyone who is not Castro or Rizzo being moved to make space for Baez and Alcantara, or just because the Cubs think they’re getting a good deal compared to how they value Valbuena/Barney/Murphy.

  • Jon

    This season is going to be a disaster. it was given up on long ago, so I would rather just find out what Olt has either way. He should get the job and be the primary starter.

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

      You can do that, just as easily, if you call him up in mid-June.

      If he sucks, oh well, if he is an .800 OPS 3B, it’ll be nice to have that age 31 season.

      If he’s an .850 OPS 3B, well…hopefully you didn’t need that 2 WAR you missed out on.

    • Norm

      Well no, they are tanking, right? So if they feel Olt is the best option they should clearly start him at AAA in hopes of getting 1/1 in 2015.

      • Noah_I

        I’m not positive the Cubs are tanking in the same way, say, the Astros have been for the past couple of seasons, although the Astros seem to be moving away from that this season. I generally think the Cubs have put their best 25 man roster together, at least to start the season, with service time considerations added in. It’s just their best 25 man rosters have been pretty bad.

        In other words, I just don’t think the Cubs will gear towards getting 1/1 as an affirmative goal to start the season, especially since Olt is such a likely trade candidate for them in mid-2015 if he does succeed in a move to get some higher ceiling pitching.

    • ssckelley

      But Theo clearly said that we were to not get cookies, he was going to deliver the entire meal.

      Olt starts at Iowa.

      • Noah_I

        I didn’t take Epstein’s definition of “cookie” to mean that they would not promote players they thought were ready, but that they wouldn’t promote players who would be better served in the minors just so fans can go see Javier Baez or Kris Bryant at Wrigley. The definitions you infer from “cookie” and “entire meal” would almost make it seem like Epstein would just wait until all the prospects are ready, and shove them up to Wrigley at the same time, which I’d say is distinctively not what they’re going to do.

        • ssckelley

          You get NO cookies!!!!

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That is pretty much how I read it, at least in regards to “cookies” referring to they guys who are a year plus away from being ready for MLB. However, I don’t think that Theo meant that he wanted to bring them all up at once! As luck would have it, the Cubs have a few guys projecting to arrive within a year or so of each other, but they won’t hold X back because Y is struggling in AA. (They will hold X back for “seasoning” that magically finishes right after they get another prime year of contract control: but that also doesn’t really apply to Olt anymore.)

  • Voice of Reason

    Woody typed:

    “The problem as I see it is that if Olt is given the job out of spring training then we probably are going to have to cut Murphy.”

    Why is cutting Murphy a problem? He sucks.

    • C. Steadman

      heck he could sneak through waivers and then we stash him in Iowa…

      • C. Steadman

        otherwise finding platoon players isnt that hard if murphy is in fact claimed

      • Jon

        The only problem I would have with cutting Murphy is not being able to post “You are out of your element Donnie” when he hits a home run.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      My point was that if Olt starts the season at Wrigley then one of those utility types has to go. And I can tell you that it won’t be Valbuena. Seeing the speed and versatility in Bonafcio it is certain to me that Murphy is gone. So you ask what is the problem with that? The problem as I see it is that if Olt can’t make it and is sent back down you have lost the platoon at third. But I don’t know how long they woulld carry Olt if he didn’t hit. Regardless of your feelings about him he is still a prospect and the possibility of failure is a risk. So why not let him DH and play 1st base and third base to rest Villanueva at Iowa for 6 weeks or so before we make that call. Even though his eye issues are behind him I still think you don’t give him the job untill he has regined the form he hd in 2012.

      • Voice of Reason

        Woody typed:

        “The problem as I see it is that if Olt can’t make it and is sent back down you have lost the platoon at third.”

        What difference does it make? If Olt breaks camp as the starting third baseman and succeeds or they have to go back to a platoon at third base because Olt doesn’t cut it, they still lose 90+ games either way.

        And, they won’t lose the platoon. They’ll keep Valbuena and they can pick up another right handed hitting bum to platoon with him ala Murphy.

  • David

    Wondering what return we would get this July for a combination of Olt, who stays with the major league cubs, and Volgebach. Assumming they both have solid years, of course. Pierce Johnson type of pitcher? ??

    • ssckelley

      Are you asking this because you think the Cubs are going to be buyers at the trade deadline? Otherwise these types of deals are best done in the off season.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Generally you’re right, but the Cubs have said repeatedly that they need to get the players when they’re available. And I could see a (rather unusual) set of circumstances whereby the Cubs might not be contending but yet are looking to pick up pieces at the trade deadline. If they did so, it would likely be from their glut of infielders, so it’s an intriguing question. Let me give an example.

        Let’s say, the Cubs don’t look horrible this year but they’re clearly not in the playoff hunt. Still, the stars seem to be aligning for them to look pretty darn good next year and someone like David Price is on the trading block at the deadline and is willing to sign an extension as part of the trade. The Cubs for their part, might be willing to over-extend themselves a bit to have first dibs on such a player and not have to fear another swing and miss like with Tanaka this year. If they want to compete in 2015, they’ve GOT to get pitching, and regardless how great the market may or may not be next off-season, there are still limited FAs and a number of strong competitors.

        Do I think the Cubs do this? Not willing to say so. Just could foresee the Cubs being in an awkward middle ground where this kind of move might make sense.

        • ssckelley

          First of all it would take more than Olt and Vogelbach to get a guy like David Price. Secondly you’re only getting a little more than a year of control for Price, so you better be in the playoff hunt this year or know that 2015 is the year of the “full course meal”. Finally if the Cubs more than likely will be sellers again this deadline, it would seem like a revolving door to be trying to both acquire Price and trade Samardzija at the same time. They might as well simply toss a bunch of money at Samardzija and keep the cost controlled prospects.

          • Voice of Reason

            Don’t be so sure that you couldn’t get Price for Olt and Vogelbach!

            Price will have a limited number of suitors because of his price tag!

            And, if a team trades for him and want to sign him… you’re looking at over $20 million a year. This, for a guy who is showing signs of arm trouble.

            If the Rays want to trade him at the final hour and there aren’t many teams interested, Olt and Vogelbach might be the best offer out there.

            • YourResidentJag

              It would take at least Almora to get Price.

            • aaronb

              Rays are better off keeping Price and taking comp picks over Olt and Vogelbach.

              I do find it funny that Samjay is supposed to fetch us Archie Bradley or the top 2 prospects in the Toronto organization. Yet Price can only fetch out 10th best prospect and a 25 year old who hit .198 in AAA last year.

              • YourResidentJag

                Yeah, that is interesting.

              • http://bleachernation.com woody

                Samardzija is basking in the light of his ego. He needs to shutup and pitch like Travis Wood is doing. All this bullshit of wanting to be the star in the world series is meaningless drivel in light of what he has done to date. You don’t hear Wood talking shit, he just goes about his business. From other reports that I have read, Shark wants the money and is going to prove it starting opening day. He isn’t going to back off from his price demands and is certain that by the time he reaches FA that he will get the money he desires.

                • Edwin

                  What has Shark done to “bask in the light of his ego”? You don’t hear Wood talking shit because reporters don’t really talk to Wood, and he doesn’t get the “Ace” label thrown on him, fairly or unfairly.

                  Shark gets asked questions, he answers them. Most of the time fans love it when a guy says things like “I want to be ace, I want to win a world series with Team X, I want to prove to the FO that I’m a guy they want around long term”, but for some reason when Shark does it he’s being selfish?

                  • http://bleachernation.com woody

                    Actions speak louder than words. Just my opinion anyway. All of that will soon be determined. And the problem is that Shark wants to cash in as a 20 million dollar a year man when all of his past performances point more to an Edwin Jackson type of contract. I don’t dislike Samardzija, but I think talk is cheap and all of this drama surrounding him is a distraction. It’s really very simple. Go out and pitch like an ace and you will be paid like one. truthfully I can’t ever remember a guy asking for TOR money on the premise that he “may be” an ace someday. Give me the money now because I will be an ace is not how the world turns. Samardzija certainly does want to be “the man” so please don’t tell me that there is no ego involved there. Travis Wood could just as easily make that case for himself, but he doesn’t. In my world building yourself up to be something that you aren’t at the moment and haven’t been in the past is B.S. Thank God that it is put up or shut up time.

                    • Edwin

                      Of course he wants to be “the man”. Every player wants to be “the man”. In other settings, this would be something fans love about Shark. “Look how driven he is to be the best!”. But because he wants a larger extention than the Cubs feel he’s worth, now he’s an ego-driven asshole?

                      If Shark wants to bet on himself, let him. I don’t see how that makes him some type of jerk, for wanting a chance at a better contract.

                    • Edwin

                      I don’t mean to overreact about this, but it seems like most of the time a player gets into these contract/extention situations, more often than not the player gets characterized as being greedy/selfish for trying to negotiate with the team. It already happened with Bryant right after he was drafted and waited till the very end to sign.

                      Jeff Samardzija isn’t the one writing the story or asking the questions. I think it’s unfair to throw those types of labels on Jeff or any other player in his situation.

              • ssckelley

                No way a deal like that would happen with the Rays. They are pretty well set at 3rd with Evan Longoria and the Rays GM would hang up the phone on Hoyer if they offered Vogelbach as a centerpiece in exchange for Price.

            • C. Steadman

              the thing with Price is he isn’t a FA till after 2015, if the Rays are in the hunt at the deadline, I say there is NO WAY they trade him

            • Edwin

              I think his “arm trouble” is a little overblown. He still threw 93.5 last season, while still having one of his better yeras. He had one of the lowest BB% in the league last year, and one of the highest strike-throwing %, both good signs as far as injury prevention goes.

              • C. Steadman

                exactly the only “evidence” people have of arm troubles is that he lost some velocity last year…he still was a very effective pitcher, because thats what Price is…he doesnt rely on his velocity as much as other guys who throw 94 do, he can afford to lose some velocity yet still be very effective bc he’s a genius, heck if we use Northwestern as a base that Joe Girardi was smart since he went there well Price went to Vanderbilt…he had his best season ever in terms of FIP and BB/9…K/9 did take a dip but K/BB skyrocketed.

                • Chad

                  It’s not the only evidence. He did miss some time due to the injury.

                  • C. Steadman

                    only six weeks for a strained triceps…he still made 27 starts(2 more in the minors for rehab) and had the second best season of his career in terms of WAR….triceps is nothing to worry about

                    • Chad

                      Still, would you not consider that an indication of arm troubles? It was considered at the time to be similar to the Garza injury. It’s not like his velocity just dipped a bit, but he also missed time, that’s all I’m saying.

                    • Kyle

                      Both strained tricep and lost velocity are frequently indicative of future elbow problems.

                      There’s no such thing as a “nothing to worry about” arm problem for a pitcher.

                    • C. Steadman

                      Price had no prior injury history(3 200+IP seasons before) and it was a triceps…Garza has had multiple injury issues and his 2013 injury was elbow related…elbow is way more serious than triceps and the fact that Price only made 2 rehab starts shows that it wasnt that serious of an injury

                    • Edwin

                      It’s obviously worse than if he didn’t have arm problems, but it’s not the largest red flag out there.

                    • Chad

                      If Price had lost a little velocity and not been injured I doubt the level of concern would be where it is at. You are right, the tricep is not an elbow, but they are all connected and all very important to pitching success and avoiding serious injury. He missed 6 weeks, or about 8 starts, that is a lot for a guy who will only get about 35 starts in a season. To pay that much money for an aging starter who may have future injury issues is a big risk IMO. You are evaluating him on his future potential, not the past performance.

                    • C. Steadman

                      “If Price had lost a little velocity” his loss in velocity wasn’t due to the injury…he threw 93.82 and 92.27 in the couple months before the injury and returned throwing 93.97/93.26 in the two months after

                    • Chad

                      He still lost velocity from his previous seasons. The loss in velocity had been noted all during the first few weeks of the season and they said it was likely due to the injury. It was more of a persistent injury. They are still related.

                    • C. Steadman

                      “It was more of a persistent injury” it wasn’t a persistent injury if he was pitching pain free before and then all of a sudden in one start he feels discomfort. A pitcher should never pitch through arm pain so then there wont ever be a persistent injury regarding their arm…the injury popped up in his start in May and then he was shelved on the 15-day…let it be know i dont want the Cubs to trade any of the big four for price and theres no way they get him without one of those guys either(unless FA)

                • Kyle

                  Nobody has prior injury history until they start to have injury problems.

                  The existence of a single arm-related DL trip is correlated with a many-times-over increased risk of future arm-related injuries and ineffectiveness.

                  • C. Steadman

                    ” It was considered at the time to be similar to the Garza injury” he compared it to the Garza situation and I was showing that it wasnt similar…no shit nobody has prior injury history, also if it was so “severe” why would the Rays(regarded as a very smart organization) rush him back after two rehab starts

                    • Chad

                      I said at the time it was considered to be similar. There were blogs here that said so. I’m not saying it turned out the same way, but it easily could have.

                    • Kyle

                      Because once his arm starts to break down, there’s not really anything you can do to stop it other than just never letting him pitch again.

                    • C. Steadman

                      b/c at the time people thought it was a torn UCL

                    • Chad

                      Did Garza tear his UCL? I don’t think he did. Wasn’t it his tricep as well? I’m not saying that they were the same, what I am saying is at first glance they thought they were the same. However, the main point is that once a pitcher has an injury the odds of another injury increases.

                    • C. Steadman

                      Garza had a stress fracture in his elbow that cost him half of 2012 and then a strained lat in march…

                      “b/c at the time people thought it was a torn UCL” sorry i was meaning that people thought Price’s injury was more serious at the time not that it was comparative to Garza bc i dont see any comparison to Garza beside

                    • Chad

                      Garza had a stress reaction, not a stress fracture.

                    • C. Steadman

                      yes you’re right, “reaction”

                  • Chad

                    All pitchers have a likelihood of injury due to the fact that throwing a baseball is a very unnatural and stressful motion to the arm. Once you have an injury to the arm the odds of a future injury jump up a lot.

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

                    But hey, Cashner could have been counted on prior to the 2012 season as a solid foundational piece.

                    • Kyle

                      “But hey, Cashner could have been counted on prior to the 2012 season as a solid foundational piece.”

                      Well, he was a piece with value. But I’m not at all sorry we traded him for a positional player.

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              SS, I wasn’t suggesting Olt and Vogs for Price. That was someone else’s pieces. I’m just suggesting a trade that builds the team rather than the farm system might be plausible under the right circumstances:

              1. We aren’t horrible this year.
              2. Stars seem to be aligning to look respectable next year.
              3. We have infield talent to trade.
              4. We can get a pitcher.

              I’m thinking a guy like Price–with a generous extension (however unlikely) would be a kind of guy we’d like to get. There are others. I just used a name that has been on the block for awhile.

          • Noah_I

            Even if Olt succeeds, why would the Rays want him? They have a better 3B tied up long term at an extremely reasonable rate, and the Rays just don’t spend on 1Bs.

            Even next year, I think the price for Price in a trade would be Almora, one of Johnson or Edwards, and then some filler led off by a Vogelbach or Candelario type. If Alcantara shows enough, they might be able to headline a deal with him, but that’s best case scenario.

          • Funn Dave

            He never mentioned Olt and Vboch as participants in a trade with Price.

        • Funn Dave

          Very good point, Cleveland.

  • tymx9

    Does Bryant just not have the range for third? It seems people are only projectig Olt, Baez, or Villanueva at the position

    • Kyle

      Bryant is included in the 3b discussion all the time, he’s just further away than Olt or Baez and possibly Villanueva, so a lot of people figure someone might have it sown up before he gets here.

      The concern with Bryant is that he’s so tall that it requires uncommon athleticism and coordination for him to get down on ground balls, and he might lose that as he gets older and fills out. I’m also a bit worried about what it might do to his back over the years.

      • Chad

        I would prefer to see Bryant move to LF assuming someone can handle 3B. It would be great if Olt could manage to lock down 3B or Alcantara just be a stud at 2B so it forces the cubs hand and they have to move Baez to 3B. Lots of ifs but it is fun to play that game for sure.

        • tymx9

          It’s a good problem for the time being. If all goes accordingly, I wonder if Alcantara becomes a super utility then.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            That may be the role he will have to fulfill to make it in the big leagues. Because I have a feeling that Baez is going to end up at second base. Alcantara has the potential to fill the role that Bonafacio does with a much more potent bat. I don’t think that Theo will allow Baez to play third base this year only to be switched back in the following season. Second base really is the position where Baez could make the biggest impact with the least difficulty is the transition.

          • Chad

            If Alcantara could figure out CF as well as SS and 2B then he could be really valuable to the cubs.

            • C. Steadman

              darn right, Ben Zobrist type guy

      • DarthHater

        Troy Glaus

        • Jon

          awful defensively at 3rd.

        • Patrick W.

          Scott Rolen

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        The problem as I see it about putting Bryant in the outfield is that with Almora and Soler emerging we are left with only one lefthanded bat in the lineup (Rizzo). If Bryant could be our 3rd baseman on opening day 2015 We could either trade for, or sign a FA outfielder that hits from the left side. Olt is definately the X factor here. If he could put up numbers similar to what Rizzo did in 2013 ( 25+ homers, 75+ RBI’s ) he would be a valuable commodity. Anything less than that would be a downgrade compared to having Baez or Bryant in that spot.

        • Chad

          If it works out that way I do not care about left handed bats. I want the best players out there whether right handed or left handed. If anything you could trade someone in the outfield (Soler or Almora) for the left handed bat. Alcantara is a switch hitter so if you keep him around as a utility player he could fit nicely at eitehr SS, 2B or CF when you need him too.
          If long term Bryant won’t be able to handle 3B or it could cause him health issues then you move him because it is best for him and the cubs long term. I don’t usually get too excited about how many lefties you have if your righties can crush the ball.

        • Jason P

          There’s a good chance at least one of Bryant, Almora, or Soler busts. Also, having a balanced lineup in terms of handedness is nice, but not a necessity. At the end of the day, you just want the best hitters in there (Arismendy Alcantara is a switch hitter, anyway).

          • Edwin

            It’s not a necessity, but it’s nice having balance in high leverage situations so that an opposing team can’t just bring in a specialist reliever. It’s probably not as big an issue in the regular season, but in the playoffs managers seem to have more flexability with their bullpens, so it could become a bigger issue.

            But I mostly agree, it’s not something worth making a trade/signing over.

          • YourResidentJag

            It is an issue, though. But the bigger issue is who is going to be the guy(s) to get on base ahead on the core largely consisting of RH power bats.

          • Chad

            True, but they all could make it. I would hate to give up on Almora for example because I think his mindset is much more valuable than the skills, even though he has those too. Soler has the highest likelihood of busting, but if he meets his potential then wow. All these issues are based on everyone succeeding, which we know is not likely. I actually think Alcantara has a big bust factor as well, but I love his potential. It’s fun to dream and if we didn’t well we wouldn’t have much to talk about here.

        • Voice of Reason

          Let’s worry about the lefty/righty hitting problems if they should develop.

          Bryant could do a .310 ave/35 hr annually. I don’t care if he bats left, right or with his tally whacker.

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

            “We need to be more left-handed” “SIGN ALL THE MILTON BRADLEYS” I hope learned that lesson.

            • MightyBear

              When in doubt, listen to the Goat.

      • tymx9

        Makes sense. I wonder if Olt becomes the everyday 3rd baseman they’ll try to convert him to the OF this summer.

    • tymx9

      BA has him listed as the organizations best infield arm so why isnt he getting some love for the starting position for the future considering his bat is as awesome as it is? He can’t be any worse than Miguel Cabrera at the position

      • Kyle

        What sort of love are you looking for? People talk about him as a 3b of the future all the time.

        • tymx9

          It doesnt seem not nearly as much as Olt, Baez or even Villanueva of late though.

          • Kyle

            Because those three are going to be in AAA or higher and Bryant is farther away.

      • Mike Moody

        Because while he’s definitely a good defensive third baseman, Olt is a better defensive third baseman and Villanueva is a gold glove caliber third baseman. Baez is obviously a shortstop but his tools suggest that he could also be gold glove caliber at third. So, if one of those three make it, you would seem to be better off defensively moving him to right field.

        Having said that, the Cubs are not moving Bryant off of third yet and are working hard on his defense with him, so things could change.

  • http://BN Sacko

    The platoon at 3rd was somewhat effective last year but I don’t think thats what we want to do every year. Olt will have to show he is good enough to replace a platoon now or out of AAA. Most everyone hopes now and for myself then do the platoon then at 2nd.

    • Noah_I

      A platoon is not what should be your A option for any position, because you’d rather get as much production out of each roster spot as possible. I think the bigger notes on this are: (1) that whoever plays third base, it will be difficult for them to surpass the overall production the Cubs got at 3B last year; and (2) if you don’t have someone who is really capable of handling the position 150+ games a year, you’re better off platooning guys who can hit opposite handed hitting than just sending a subpar player against same handed pitching up there over and over again.

    • another JP

      I get why people believe last year’s platoon at 3B was effective but it’s a bit misleading in that much of Valbuena’s value came from his defense, and if he didn’t take a BB so much his offensive numbers would look like Darwin Barney. The HR binge Murphy went on isn’t likely to repeat itself this year, either.

      • Chad

        So because Valbuena plays good defense and takes walks that means that he is not valuable? His offensive numbers are what they are. They weren’t like Darwin Barney’s. Crap if you take away the homeruns then Rizzo’s numbers would look more like DB’s. That is a bad way to say something didn’t work.

  • WI Jeff

    Hi Guys:
    I just returned from Cubs New Park and the games.
    Enjoyed watching all the players and speaking with Austin Kirk’s Grandfather…. really a bunch of good guys….. My take on a few things…..
    Juan Paniagua is pumping in the low 90’s, but very wild
    Rob Zastryzny is the real deal– he looks like ex-Brave Steve Avery- real easy delivery, control and pumps it in great.
    McNutt looks top-heavy- he is could drop 15-20lbs… just my opinion.
    Lots of positive chatter about Will Remillard from different Cubs coaches. They really think they have something there. He was working with some upper level hitting groups. The guy looks and acts like he belongs… efficient compact swing.
    Almora muscled up and is jacked up…

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