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first cut is the deepestToday, according to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs really made their first substantive cuts of the Spring, re-assigning a number of guys who came into camp with a chance to win a job if everything went right.

Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, each fighting for a bench outfield job, were cut, and will presumably keep on fighting at AAA Iowa. That outfield could become crowded quickly, and each may have something to prove in order to stay on the 40-man roster long-term.

Arodys Vizcaino was also cut today, ending folks’ early speculation that he could break camp with the big team. That never made much sense to me for a list of reasons explored earlier, but this is no setback for him. In the minors, the Cubs can continue to bring Vizcaino along slowly, and ensure that he’s back to form in time for 2015, when he might make a difference.

Christian Villanueva was also sent out, which is not a surprise, though he did put together a nice Spring Training. He’ll be the primary third baseman at AAA Iowa, and could be a future big leaguer for the Cubs, depending on what happens with the other third basemen in the system. If Mike Olt is eventually sent to AAA, too, they may have to share some third base starts for a while.

Lefty Zac Rosscup was cut, and it became evident early on that he wasn’t going to be seriously considered for a bullpen job at this time. No mark against him, as he hasn’t had regular time at AAA yet anyway. He’ll almost certainly see time in the bigs at some point this year.

Armando Rivero was the buzz of early camp, but, with so little professional experience, he, too, was unlikely to make the pen. He’ll spend some time in the minors, and, if he dominates like he did last year, he could be with the Cubs soon.

Mitch Maier (injured, I believe) and Rafael Lopez (not a real roster threat) were also sent to minor league camp. Maier may stick with the Cubs, or may ultimately depart for another organization. Lopez – discussed by Luke earlier today – is probably about fourth on the Cubs’ catching depth chart at this point, and could be one of the starters at AAA. He gets a goodbye start at catcher tonight (though, considering the lack of depth, he’ll probably still play some big league Spring Training games before the Cactus League is over).

After today’s eight cuts, the Spring roster stands at 45.

  • itzscott

    Who’s left?

  • waittilthisyear

    would have liked to have seen vitters perform better this spring. perhaps its another one of his slow starts. it would be a huge plus if after the midseason purge, vitters came up and played a capable left field while showing a little something at the plate

  • jp3

    Each cut that goes by and. Baez isn’t on it, I start to think they’ll pull him up sooner than later… If he stays down long enough for another year of control I could see us pulling him up if he’s raking it in. I think if we’re seriously considering contending next year I’d rather see him get his feet wet in a lost season and not in one that everything is on the line.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Unless he really craps the bed in Iowa, he will be up at some point

    • candyland07

      Baez, This player intrigues me. I will not be disappointed if he is cut. I truly believe that a season in the minors will only help him but if the front office thinks he is ready to mature at the next level . i wont hold it against them if he is promoted and he plays well enough to keep his starter role. I too feel the experience will only help and at this point Cub fans need a little excitement comes April. But like i said even if and when they Cut Baez- its okay.

  • Ivy Walls

    Who are the 45 or more importantly who are the 20 on the bubble?

    • Javier Bryant

      Kalish, Bonifacio, Olt, Cabrera, Rondon, McDonald(s), Rusin. Just to name a few

  • Paddy26

    So who’s left to fight for the fifth outfielder spot? Assuming Lake, Sweeney, Ruggiano, and Schierholtz are in, that leaves Kalish, Coghlan, and Wells, right?

  • http://thewflag.worspress.com fiiiiiiiitz

    Whenever I read Christian Villanueva there’s about 1.5 seconds where I think Carlos Villanueva and get very confused.

    • gratefulled

      Yep, me too.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I for one hope TheoJed simply cut Vitters and BJax so we can officially be rid of this bizarre fascination with their not going to happen major league futures. Again, if not for being 1st round draft picks they would be lumped together with the other minor league journeyman flotsam that go by names like Darnell McDonald.

    • Jason P

      I can’t think of even 1 good reason to cut Vitters

      Do we need his 40-man spot? Nope.
      Do we need to clear up his AB’s at AAA for someone else? Nope.
      Is he out of options? Nope.

    • Jon

      Unless faced with a tough 40 man decusion, what would be the purpose of cutting them now?

    • college_of_coaches

      Face palm. Cut Vitters? You’re talking about a guy who put up an .873 OPS with 22 HR in 552 PAs in AAA at ages 22–23.

  • candyland07

    This what makes Bleacher Nation great ! update on Cubs news with personal tidbits on players and staff. I am not surprised at who got cut. Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters seems like they are at a cross roads in their early career and it dont seem like they are improving to warrant spot on the 25 man roster, and the cubs do have better platoon players that can play the position better.

    For Arodys Vizcaino to make the team then Cubs would not have had faith in its bullpen – and its the department I think the Cubs actually did get better in the off season and thru earlier trade acquisitions . Vizcaino time will come …. the Cubs can wait – he can develop arm strength and participate and condition better at the minor league level.

    But i am still looking forward at the 25 man roster , at this point it a little early to get excited or get mad at selections but nothing pops out as a bad move with the type of players they have.to lay and fill those spots.

    i
    .

  • David

    “I don’t worry too much about his strikeouts because there is a lot of damage that comes with his stick.”

    This from Rentetia talking about Brett Jackson. Jackson struck out in 10 of 20 at bats this Spring. YIKES!

    • Jon

      Quote appropriate for Javier Baez, Brett Jackson, not so much

  • Jason P

    For those who were wondering who remains on the spring roster…

    LOCKED IN (MOST LIKELY) – 19
    Castillo, Kottaras, Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Lake, Sweeney, Valbuena
    Samardzija, Wood, E. Jackson, Hammel
    Veras, Strop, Wright, Russell, Carlos Villanueva

    Leaving 26 competitors for 6 spots…
    Murphy, Olt, Roberts(NRI), Bonifacio(NRI), Kalish (NRI), C. Rusin, A. Cabrera, Grimm, Rondon, Parker, J. Sanchez (NRI), Ramirez, Baez (NRI), J. Baker (NRI), L. Flores (NRI), E. Whiteside (NRI), W. Remillard (NRI), D. McDonald(NRI), Wells(NRI), Coughlan(NRI), Hottovy (NRI), Yong-Lim (NRI), Schlitter (NRI), Wada (NRI), Valaika (NRI)

    3 others (Fujikawa, Arrieta, McDonald) will presumably start on the DL.
    Via thecubreporter.com

    Of that group, Bonifacio, and Parker are near-locks, so in reality, you probably have 24 competitors for 4 spots, 2 of which are bullpen spots, 1 of which is a reserve infielder (or starting infielder on Olt wins), and 5th outfielder.

    • willis

      I think out of those on the list, Murphy, Kalish, Bonifacio, Cabrera and Parker are in. I have no idea who the 6th would be.

      • BWA

        Probably Rondon. And if Olt makes the cut one of Murphy, Kalish, or Bonifacio will be cut. Grimm is also a possibility, but I see him heading to AAA.

  • willis

    Sure, there’s no point in waving them off the 40 man right now…but I think it’s about time we all admit they won’t be big league players on a successful team. Vitters maybe will be a bench bat down the line, but I think it’s pretty much over for both of these guys.

    • Jon

      Jackson is done for sure, Vitters, there’s a chance but not probable. To suggest cutting them without a purpose for that 40 man spot is needless handwaving

      • willis

        I think Vitters has a skill set that, in the right situation, could come out to play and contribute. Jackson, as big of a fan of his that I am, has just fallen apart.

        • Jon

          Maybe it was the TV, but Jackson also looked a bit out of shape when I saw him the other day

          • willis

            His tailspin as a prospect is just sad. You wonder if he was destined for this or if that call up a couple years ago really started this thing down the wrong stretch. I almost thing the coaches got in his head too much during/after that call up and it was over at that point. Tough to watch.

            • willis

              *think*

            • Drew7

              Jackson’s problems today are the same problems that caused him to be picked at the ass-end of the 1st round in 2008(?): the dude just can’t make consistent contact.

            • aaronb

              Agreed,

              Ever since the coaches “rebuilt his swing” he’s been lost.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                His K rate had reached career-endangering levels before the Cubs made any changes. That’s why they made the changes in the first place.

                • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                  He was also inflated because if a weak system when he was considered our top prospect and because he was our “top prospect” we had lofty expectations when in reality he was never a premier or even top prospect. It was just ever team needs to have one and he (and Vitters to a point) were the Cubs.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    I think that BJax also stood out in the Cubs system because he took walks, and so many other Cubs prospects floundered because of lack of pitch recognition. However, his K-rate that was troubling (23-24%) in AA went berserk (~30%) in AAA.

                    Still, we can fit it into AaronB’s narrative by asserting that whatever Jedstein & Sveum did was so awful that it distorted the space-time continuum and ruined BJax’s swing several months before they joined the Cubs organization. They are just that bad, you know….

                    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                      Well duh it’s always Thed fault, if they left him one he’d be Mike Trout right now.

                    • brainiac

                      hah, “thed”. that’s almost as good as my “hide the beanbag” description of theo’s approach to management.

                    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                      And there is that annoying buzz that clogs this page so often. Blah blah blah.

                    • brainiac

                      either way, you’ve just come up with the “brangelina” moniker for theo and jed, to be used from now on: “thed”

                      long live thed! or short live, since they’re going to jump ship at the end of their contracts for a real baseball ownership group that won’t try to ruin their careers.

                    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                      Except “Thed” is not new but if you want to add it to your moronic narrative go right ahead.

              • Drew7

                Yeah, that new swing messed him up *so* bad that his AAA K-rate actually dropped.

                The swing change didn’t work, but he was a mess before that.

  • willis

    I’ll also add, I’m glad the cubs went ahead and cut Vizcaino. Sure he’s probably the most talented reliever arm in the system, and yes I loved watching him this Spring…but this keeps a billion posts about “oh he may start with the big club” and “he should be in Chicago come April” from happening. That was never the plan nor should it have been. You treat him with very much care and bring him along once he shows durability to go along with his tremendous talent.

    • Jon

      I would think sending him to Tennessee or Daytona might be a good idea. Keep that arm out of the cold. Early April is going to be brutal this year

      • willis

        I don’t think that will happen, but it’s a good idea for sure. I haven’t looked at Iowa’s first month schedule in depth, I know they’re down here the second week of April, but if they’re home a lot placing him in AA or A+ would be the super safe route. And with him, at least to begin with, it’s about getting innings and building strength. He can do that anywhere.

  • JeffR

    I was wonderimg if they would keep him in extended spring training another month or so before sending him to Iowa.

  • josh ruiter

    My hopeful opening day roster would be:
    Infielders:
    1. Castro
    2. Valbuena
    3. Bonifacio
    4. Olt
    5. Rizzo
    6. Murphy

    Catchers:
    1. Castillo
    2. Kottaras

    Outfielders:
    1. Lake
    2. Kalish
    3. Ruggiano
    4. Sweeney
    5.

    Starting Pitching
    1. Wood
    2. Jackson
    3. Hammel
    4. Arrieta’s fill in
    5. Traded for pitching prospect/Rusin

    Relief Pitching
    1. Veras
    2. Strop
    3. Wright
    4. Russell
    5. Rondon
    6. Villanueva
    7. Grimm

    The Cubs could transition either Grimm or Villanueva into the 5th starters role as well when Fujikawa gets back healthy. Grimm could be optioned to AAA and keep Parker up as well.
    I’m hoping the Cubs can swing two trades in the next two weeks: Packaging Barney and Schierholtz to Detroit for either Porcello or Smyly. And Shark to one of D-Backs, Blue Jays, Mariners, Mets, for one of their TOR prospects and another piece or two. That would free up space for midseason call ups of Baez/Bryant/Jackson/Vitters as well if they earn it without bumping someone and gives us versatility with Bonifacio and Murphy off the bench come midseason.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Scratch Olt who will be a DH cause he may need shoulder surgery and never throw the same again for the Tigers or As in a trade of multiple players

  • Diehardthefirst

    Jackson and Vitters gone this year again .. Soon Soler and Almora will be the almost made it guys… So close but yet so far

    • BT

      [img]http://socialferocity.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloud.jpg[/img]

      • Drew7

        Still funny…

        • brainiac

          very funny, but what if he’s right?

          • BT

            Here’s a fact. If Diehard predicts every Cub prospect will fail, he will be right more often than he is wrong. And there will STILL be no reason to listen to him.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are damning indictment of Jim Hendry and Tim Wilken. Add Hayden Simpson to their list of awful first round picks and you start to realize the mess TheoJedJason inherited.

    God Hendry sucked. He has little supervision and a generous payroll to work with to boot.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Given that the hundreds of future All-Stars that Hendry used to acquire good veterans have amounted to one MOR starter and maybe one very late-blooming good 3Bman, I would say that Hendry didn’t suck at everything. Those back-to-back playoff seasons were fun, too.

      However, Hendry was very slow to recognize that pitch recognition is a basic tool that doesn’t develop with “maturity” and that “situational hitting” was not a reliable key to success..

      • willis

        Man, he did fleece some people on those trades. He took advantage of situations and won most of those trades hand over fist.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          But the funny thing was how fans would howl about how Hendry had mortgaged the future every time! If a coward counts every foe twice, then there is a class of sports fan that counts every prospect 200 times.

          • Diehardthefirst

            Quoting Shakespeare ?

      • Diehardthefirst

        Agreed- Hendry was Rumple of the Bailey fun to watch… Theo is button down boring

    • Diehardthefirst

      Yea but yea but yea but MLB analysts were naming them as top prospects like today as to Baez, Soler, Almora, Lake and heaven forbid Bryant.. That’s the real world like death and taxes

      • Drew7

        Easy, Gramps – Shady Oaks may take away your internet privileges if you keep hoggin’ the smart-box.

        • mjhurdle

          ha! i can just imagine Diehard rocking the 56K dial up on his 486 in the cafeteria

      • DocPeterWimsey

        No, they really were not. Choi had been a top prospect: but his stock fell due to reduced bat speed after wrist surgery. Insofar as I can find, Nolasco and Donaldson never were in BP’s Top 100. H-JLee and Archer both were Top 100, and Archer has started to amount to something, but H-JLee took a very long time to catch up to AA pitching, which is never a good thing. (He also suffered a major injury that might have lasting effects, but that is a separate issue.)

        Choi was the only one who got rankings like Baez & Bryant are getting. (Lake never has gotten high rankings and he’s even used as the butt of jokes by national media when they make fun of Cubs fans [every fandom has a Lake], so I’m not sure why you have him on the list.) And had Choi not had the wrist problems (which I seem to recall didn’t even stem from baseball: he had cysts develop that needed to be removed), then he might well have become an All-Star.

  • terencemann

    So is tonight like a last hurrah for some of these guys before they head to minor league camp?

  • http://BN Sacko

    Mcdonald better go before Vitters Jackson

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