For quite some time, I have spent some late nights and weekends working on a significant article that drops later today. To the extent you’re interested in the big picture issues facing the Cubs as they rebuild the organization from top to bottom over the course of several years, I’d encourage you to take the time to read it thoughtfully. You are warned in advance: the piece is not short. Until then, Bullets …
- The Cubs cut Arodys Vizcaino from big league camp yesterday, but Rick Renteria made it clear to Patrick Mooney that this is all part of the plan for him. It still sounds like everyone is very happy with his progress this year, after missing the last two years with Tommy John surgery and a follow-up procedure. RR also discusses Brett Jackson in the same piece, hinting that he remains hopeful that Jackson can have a big league career, even as a reserve outfielder type.
- Keith Law examined 10 potential breakout candidates this year (among non-rookie types), and here’s what he said about Anthony Rizzo: “He keeps changing his load, often for the worse, which makes him for strikeout prone and particularly vulnerable to left-handed pitchers. His hands aren’t quite as low this spring as they were last year, but he’s still in a state of constant flux with his mechanics and doesn’t keep his weight back as well as he once did. All that aside, I still think there’s long-term potential because he has a good eye and enough raw power to eventually post a 30-homer season. His hit tool lags behind his other tools and probably will until he locks himself into a more consistent swing and mechanical approach.” No Cubs fan overlooks Rizzo when discussing 2014, because we all know he’s such an important part of that story. But you really don’t hear Rizzo discussed too much when talking about the impending offensive prospect wave, and what they could make the offense look like in a couple years. Rizzo, 24 (a full year younger than Mike Olt, for example), is going to be a huge part of that. He just happens to be in the bigs already.
- Consider this: if Rizzo’s BABIP regresses to a more reasonable .280 from last year’s .258, if his walk rate takes a small step forward from last year’s very good 11%, and if his ISO ticks up from last year’s .186 to .200, Rizzo could very easily hit .260/.360/.460 next year. That’s a very *modest* projection if you believe he can improve/positively regress. That OPS would have been in the top 15ish in the NL last year.
- (ZiPS projects .255/.336/.464 for Rizzo, and PECOTA projects .256/.330/.467. In other words, they don’t see the walk rate increasing any, but see a bigger power bump.)
- Oh, and Rizzo is killing it this Spring, if that matters to you: .393/.452/.750.
- Bradley Woodrum takes an interesting look at Tsuyoshi Wada, and considers why the Cubs may be holding out hope that he can be the fifth starter, despite the mixed spring.
- Patrick Mooney with a great, measured take on Javier Baez. Great quotes in there, too, about the way Baez has prepared and handled himself this year.
- Matt Snyder with a pretty fair season preview of the Cubs.
- In conjunction with yesterday’s reveal of the top prospect list, Jonathan Mayo writes about the Cubs’ system and the season ahead for MLBPipeline. Neil Ramirez, Dan Vogelbach, and Jeimer Candelario come in for special mention.