Quantcast

first cut is the deepestToday, the Chicago Cubs made cuts that will shock and dismay casual observers (Javier Baez) and hardcore fans (Blake Parker) alike.

The most prominent cut is also one that is completely expected, and was always coming: Javier Baez, after a fantastic Spring, is headed to minor league camp, where he’ll break into the year at AAA, starting at shortstop. Nothing was going to prevent that from happening. Baez still has some things to work on, and hopefully he’ll force his way into the big leagues come mid-season.

The most surprising cut, however, is reliever Blake Parker, who was long considered an inside favorite for one of the few open bullpen spots. After posting fantastic numbers last year – 2.67 ERA over 46.1 innings, 2.9 BB/9, 10.7 K/9 – most assumed Parker would stick with the big club to open the year, even after a shaky Spring. With options left, though, the Cubs can move him to Iowa to start the year and not risk losing him.

Speaking of which … with Chang-Yong Lim, Jonathan Sanchez, and Brian Schlitter also being cut today, we can take a pretty reasonable stab at projecting the bullpen. We know that Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, James Russell, and Wesley Wright are locks, leaving three more spots. Considering today’s cuts, it’s pretty clear that Alberto Cabrera (out of options) will be given a spot, rather than risking exposing him to waivers. Hector Rondon was fantastic late last year and has flashed good stuff this Spring, so he’s probably in, too. That last spot, then, would be going either to Justin Grimm or Carlos Villanueva. If Chris Rusin is kept up as the fifth starter, then Villanueva would head to the pen, and Grimm would likely head to Iowa. If Villanueva gets the gig, then Grimm could be kept up. Neil Ramirez is a theoretical possibility, too, but I’m hoping he’s given a chance to start at Iowa for a little while.

Utility man Chris Valaika and outfielder Casper Wells (who’s been dealing with a back issue) were also cut today. The Spring roster stands at 37.

  • go cubs go

    Ok, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it seem like a good idea to put Olt and 3B, put Valbuena at 2B, and have Barney be a defensive sub late in games? I feel as though Valbuena would definitely be at least League average at 2B offensively and defensively would be able to handle it. Thoughts?

    • Isaac

      Yes, I also like this. Let Barney start against lefties in Valbuena’s stead.

    • johnnyp

      I think they’re hoping for Barney to return to form, so they can trade him. He’s worth next to nothing as a bench player.

      • candyland07

        The good on Barney is his glove will not disappear. His hitting is so terrible that any type of prolong improvement in his hitting will enable the Cubs to trade him in April or May. If Barney can not produce in April or May, trading him will be in what the Cubs are able to get rather than what Cubs want ,cause his roster spot will be best part of him departing the Cubs. His bat and speed is not enough to keep him as utility player on this team.

      • Funn Dave

        What form? Lol.

    • ssckelley

      I doubt the Cubs will platoon Barney at 2nd base, Bonaficio may get a few starts but the job is Barney’s to lose. Again I think the goal is to rebuild Barney’s value hoping his hitting returns to the level it was in 2011 and 2012.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I’m guessing Parker’s demotion was all about options. I think he’ll be back up.

    With Parker and Vizcaino, and maybe Frank Batista, Iowa won’t be hurting for closers. That’s for sure.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Sounds like Samardzija, Jackson, Hammel, Wood, and Villanueva/Rusin to start the season. Wood pitching the home opener against the Phillies.

    • Natkey1992

      I think Wood is slated to start the second game of the year.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        No, what NSI just listed is the rotation order given by the Cubs writers over Twitter an hour or two ago. Shark gets Opening Day, Wood gets the home opener.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 1m
    Oh, and CJ Edwards will pitch against the Padres in a Cactus League game on Tues night.

    Whoa…that will definitely be interesting…

    • NorthSideIrish

      But unfortunately it’s not on TV or radio or Cubs.com. Which sucks.

  • Rich H

    Sending Parker down may be a sign of things to come. He went from being considered for the 7/8 lead in to Strop and Veras to being in AAA. It means very simple that if you want to play in Chicago you got to earn it. It might also mean that Olt has played himself in to opening the season in Chicago.

  • Jason P

    Fantastic. We demoted our best reliever. And now, since he’s been outrighted before, he can elect free agency, an option he very well may choose since some team will gladly take him and his 2.72 ERA.

    At least we get to keep our 25-year old project with no track record of big league success and declining velocity.

    • King Jeff

      Parker has options left, there is no risk of losing him, as Brett said in the article.

      • Jason P

        “In addition, Blake Parker and Hector Rondon have the right to refuse an Outright Assignment and elect free-agency because each of them has been outrighted previously in his career.”

        -thecubreporter.com

        • DarthHater

          They did not outright Parker. He remains on the 40-man roster but has been optioned to Iowa.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            That’s how I read it as well. I’m not sure what Jason P is referring to here.

          • Jason P

            I didn’t realize “outright” meant removal from the 40-man. I was thinking “outrighting” meant just removing him from the 25-man.

            I still don’t agree with the move, but I understand it a little better. I would have preferred sending Rondon to the minor leagues or a minor trade sending Russell away.

            • DarthHater

              Yea, the rules are complicated. I understand your opinion about the cut, but still think it’s an arguable point either way.

    • mjhurdle

      ya, if only the Cub’s front office paid as close attention to these things as you do, the maybe they would never had made such a horrible mistake…

      • Jason P

        I had the rule wrong, but I still don’t agree with the move.

        • ssckelley

          Why? The Cubs had several decent options for the bullpen coming into spring training. I am glad they are going with who they feel are their best options and not base it off previous performances.

          Besides, he will be back. Unless his arm falls off I doubt he will remain at Iowa all season.

          • Jason P

            By cutting Parker and keeping Cabrera, their bullpen got discernibly worse. This wasn’t about fielding the best team – it was about protecting a lottery pick arm on a rebuilding team.

            Parker was the Cubs best bullpen pitcher last year and projected to be one of the best going forward. There were at least 2, possibly 3 other guys who would have been better cuts than Parker.

            • ssckelley

              I highly doubt if Parker had gotten off to such a bad start he would have been sent down and Cabrera has looked good. IMO, about the only one you can build a case to be cut before Parker is Rondon.

              • Jason P

                I just don’t put any stock in spring stats. Parker had peripherally supported success last year (2.90 FIP, 10.68 K/9, 2.91 BB/9), while Cabrera is yet to even have any success in AAA. I think the odds Cabrera ever turns in a season like Parker had last year are very slim at this point.

                I would have rather seen Rondon or Russell cut (or in Russell’s case, traded for a small return), and my maybe was Justin Grimm, who now appears to have a spot set for him (assuming Villanueva wins the 5th starter job).

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  Keep in mind, though, that Parker is essentially a one inning set up guy while Cabrera has been worked as a starter in the past. Parker would not be in the mix for a long relief role, and Cabrera easily could be.

                  Just because Parker was optioned and Cabrera wasn’t doesn’t mean that Cabrera took Parker’s job. It could well be the two weren’t competing and that Parker lost out to Veras and Strop.

                  • Jason P

                    Rondon and Grimm have both started in the past, so I don’t think either would have trouble filling that role until Villanueva got moved back.

                    As for your second point, why would Parker be competing against the two guys who are probably the biggest locks of anyone to make the ‘pen? I feel like that’s like saying — let’s say for the sake of argument, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Lake, Kalish and Sweeney are the outfielders who make the team — that Coghlan didn’t lose out to Kalish, he lost out to Schierholtz.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Depends on how many late inning, short stint right handers the Cubs want to keep in the pen. Veras and Strop are two, and that’s the category I’d place Parker in.

                      Rondon was a starter quite some time ago, but he’s been used exclusively out of the pen for some time now. I consider him a short stint guy, but I suppose I could be wrong on that.

                      Grimm could be a swing / long relief man, but I’d rather see him continue to start. If Cabrera still had options, though, I suspect he would be fighting with Grimm for that bullpen slot.

                    • Jason P

                      Is a having a long-man for the two weeks Villanueva’s in the rotation really that essential. How many times over that stretch are they going to need a reliever to go 3+ innings? Once? Maybe twice? I have a hard time believing Rondon or Grimm couldn’t go 3-4 innings one time if they had to.

                      If the Cubs wanted Grimm to start, wouldn’t he be cut already? Or at least starting some Cactus league games.

                      If the Cubs do view him (and Rondon) as a reliever, then that puts them both in direct competition with Parker. And given how each has been used this spring, I think it’s a fairly could bet that is how the Cubs view them.

                • Kyle

                  You shouldn’t put faith in spring stats, but you also shouldn’t be that tied down to what 46 innings tell you either.

                  • Jason P

                    Bullpen arms are always volatile. Yes, there’s a chance Parker would have come out and posted a 5.00 ERA, but you could also say that about literally anyone the Cubs have. Strop was having an awful season when we picked him up. Who’s to say first-half Strop won’t come back this year? Could this be the year Russell’s usage and poor peripherals finally catch up to him? Is Rondon going to improve on that 4.77 ERA?

                    In terms of probability, I like Parker’s chances of being a productive reliever in 2014 and going forward as much or more than I do anyone else in that bullpen.

                    • Kyle

                      I’m not crazy high on Strop or Russell either for the reasons you just mentioned.

                • ssckelley

                  For veteran players I agree, but for those that are competing for jobs I would think they use everything they see in the spring.

            • Drew7

              Meh, ZiPS projects Rondon and Parker to be nearly identical, and its hard to argue Parker having more upside than Cabrera. I guess I see all of those guys as pretty interchangeable, with Rondon and Cabrera having much better stuff.

              • Jason P

                They aren’t completely interchangeable in the sense that Parker has better command than the other two. And is Cabrera’s stuff really all that much better than Parker’s? Both have some pretty nice secondary offerings. Cabrera throws a little harder, but his velocity was way down at the end of last year. Everyone assumed it was just due to the innings increase, but I believe there have been reports that that velocity drop has carried over to this spring, unless I’m completely misremembering.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  Cabrera has better stuff. He doesn’t have as good control, but he he does have better stuff.

                  • Jason P

                    I definitely don’t think Cabrera’s stuff is on a Marmol/Dolis level of nastiness. His fastball averaged 92.9 mph last year.

                    • farmerjon

                      Jason P…Parker perhaps? ; ) …Cabrera averaged 92.9 mph last year as a starter.

    • AB1980

      Yea I’m not sure where people are getting the idea he is being exposed to waivers.

      • DarthHater

        If the Cubs were to remove Parker from the 40-man roster, they would have to DFA him. They would then have 10 days to either trade him, release him, or waive him. If they waived him and he cleared waivers, they could then outright him to Iowa. However, because Parker has been previously outrighted in his career, he would have the option of refusing the assignment and becoming a free agent.

        None of this applies currently, however, because the Cubs did not remove Parker from the 40-man roster. They simply optioned him to Iowa, which they can do because he is not yet out of options.

        • FFP

          Kinda understandable mix-up “outright” vs. “option”…
          Your patient, complete review probably straighten this ‘oops’ out for bunches of regular readers who aren’t regular posters (yet). Thanks for herding all us cats on this one, Darth.
          Jason P., I know you still don’t like this move, but this organization is going to exercise options when ever they are seen as good baseball decisions. The merry-go-round between Iowa and Chicago is probably just getting warmed up, so hang on.

        • Jason P

          Yeah, thanks for your explanation without the snarky tone I used in my original comment. A similar response (like MJHurdle’s above) would have been well-deserved.

  • NorthSideIrish

    IF you have an ESPN Insider account, Keith Law posted his scouting report on Zastryzny, Tseng, and Eloy Jiminez. Not at all surprising spoiler alert: He doesn’t really like any of them.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/keith-law/post?id=2076

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s an outlier if he doesn’t like Tseng. The Baseball Prospectus crew were very high on him.

      Jiminez is extremely young and Law seems like he tends to favor more polished players over ones that need a lot of development.

      • NorthSideIrish

        BP and BA both had rave reviews on Tseng following his last outing. The day KLaw saw him must not have been as good. Or it was a day when KLaw was feeling crabby.

        Law said Tseng had no life on his FB and his breaking stuff was soft. He also criticized Jiminez’s lack of bat speed. And Zastryzny has the best chance of any of the pitchers they drafted last year to be a starter, but his ceiling is a #5.

        I knew what to expect when I saw the intro: “Two days watching Chicago Cubs prospects beyond the Big Four — Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora — didn’t yield a ton of positive observations, but here are my thoughts on three of the most notable names: “

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’ve seen other reports on Zastryzny that peg him with up to three average or better pitches and a ceiling as a three.

          We’ll see this season.

          • ssckelley

            Year of the pitcher Luke! ;)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Not impossible. Working on my pitcher organizational depth pieces now, and there are a lot of names to sift through.

              And some very interesting ones deep in the system. The development of the Cubs minor league pitching could easily be the farm system story of the year for this team.

              • ssckelley

                I am hoping a few of those arms they drafted in 2012 will make a splash this year, outside of Pierce Johnson. A couple of them (McNeil and Conway) we have not seen at all since they got hurt. Then last year they drafted several college arms and the first High School one they took, Trevor Clifton, looks intriguing.

                The Cubs have used a lot of resources to acquire pitching the past couple of years through the draft, IFA’s, and trades. Hopefully some of these arms will pan out.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  I’m really curious on Conway. He had a nice fastball before he got hurt.

                  • ssckelley

                    If he is healthy you gotta think they are giving him a long look for Kane County, don’t you think? He is already going to be 23 next month.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      In an injury case like this, age doesn’t mean a whole lot. I don’t think the Cubs will rush him into a full season league just because of that.

                      I hope he is already developed enough to be pitching in Daytona by the end of the year, but I won’t be disappointed so long as he is pitching somewhere.

  • http://BN Sacko

    My guess Barney starts until traded.

  • Funn Dave

    What’s the proper pronunciation of Rondon? Anybody know?

    • cjdubbya

      Phonetically – Heck-tore (first name), Ron (like Swanson from Parks & Rec)-doan.

      • Funn Dave

        Thank you.

  • Jon

    Go to see Keith Law also not impressed by Tseng dominating a Domimican junior varsity team

    • DarthHater

      Yes, I’m sure it has nothing to do with Tseng showing better stuff when the first group of scouts saw him than he showed when Law saw him. I mean, why consider that possibility, when you can instead assume that a bunch of knowledgeable scouts were basing their opinion on the batters he was facing?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Despite the fact that they explicitly said the competition had nothing to do with their evaluations. Jon will keep ignoring that, and the substance of Jon’s points will thus also continue to be ignored. It’s the double-edged sword of his approach that he doesn’t seem to get.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Good God Jon. Can you just give that a rest. One person agrees with you. Congrats.

  • itzscott

    Captain Obvious here…..
    Cubs need to make a trade

  • Kyle

    Anytime a team is willing to cut a guy who had a hot small sample last season, I’m impressed. I don’t have an opinion either way on Parker, but I like that they were willing to cut him if they didn’t think he was one of the best 25.

    • Matty V

      I’d like to think that the cut was more a reflection of a numbers crunch in the bullpen and the fact that Parker still has a minor league option than his overall ability. I agree that if he’s not getting it done this spring, what he did over a short period last year shouldn’t be an automatic ticket back to the big league pen. I’d love to see him back up later this year, throwing darts.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        46 innings for a reliever isn’t really a small sample. It’s almost a season.

        • Drew7

          Isn’t that why there isnt much correlation with reliever success year-over-year? I mean, 46 innings are 46 innings, no matter how you slice it.

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

          For a reliever, it’s not a small sample. To evaluate pitching effectiveness, it is.

          If half of his innings came against the bottom third of an order, or facing a platoon-friendly batter a few times, it’s easy to skew the numbers.

          Hell, he might have also gotten a run of favorable weather.

        • Kyle

          It’s both. That’s why relievers are notoriously unpredictable.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Everyone is correct about everything.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Reviewing Mariano Rivera’s numbers from last year made me realize yet another possible factor: when you face so few batters, then a reliever might have huge variation in how difficult his personal “schedule” is from one year to the next just by chance. One year you might get stuck facing higher than usual numbers of good hitters, and the next you might get stuck facing fewer than usual numbers of good hitters: even if you face the exact same teams.

            I bet that with a little research, you could tally the average OPS of opposing batters from one year to the next for different relievers: the variance there would almost certainly be appreciably higher than that for starters.

            • Kyle

              I know Baseball Prospectus used to keep track of that sort of thing.

    • Matty V

      And I’d love it if the bullpen already has 7 better guys than him right now too.

  • lnfihDeL

    Is Bryant still up or was he cut earlier?

    • ssckelley

      He has been cut, one of the first cuts I think.

  • Pingback: Pre-Gamin’: Reds v. Cubs (3:05 CT) – Lineup, Broadcast Info, etc. | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Blake will be back. Injury here, incompetence there, and trades everywhere. Long season folks

  • Diehardthefirst

    No Baez means need Jumbotron to fill the stands

  • Diehardthefirst

    At least Cubs not stuck with overpaid Tanaka- based on performance so far he may be a .500 pitcher

  • Diehardthefirst

    For all those Barney haters how about a good hit weak fielder like Tigers Travis in one for one?

    • johnnyp

      We have one of those. You’ll seem him at 2nd around June.

      • johnnyp

        Not that Baez is Travis… Just meant that if they wanted a good hitter and a weak fielder at that position, they already have one.

  • brainiac

    poor shark

  • Diehardthefirst

    Overlooked tidbit that could be significant- Baez says this heel problem is chronic… Cubs downplaying of course

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Link please.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Well it’s tough to link the inside thoughts of a madman.

      • DarthHater

        Well, he didn’t say it was chronic, but he did say it has occurred before:

        “Baez blamed his minor ailment on wearing metal cleats, adding this injury has occurred before.

        ‘I can’t wear (metal) cleats,’ Baez said. ‘It hurts the back of my heels. I reached for the bag and I felt it a little bit on my heel. I could have kept playing, but it was my last at-bat anyway. They took me out of the game.’

        Baez said it felt as if his heel got pinched. ‘Every time I hit the ground hard with all my weight, it hurts.’

        Baez said he wore mental cleats Friday because the Camelback Ranch infield was wet.”

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-starlin-castro-javier-baez-healthy-20140322,0,758609.story#mDQLyS8iPeSA6Cdx.99

        • DarthHater

          Pretty sure the Cubs could easily order Baez some custom shoes that only have cleats in the front. Track & field athletes wear them all the time.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          That I did remember seeing.

          That’s not the same thing as being chronic, though.

          • Drew7

            You obviously haven’t received your newest copy of the DieHardian Dictionary.

            • DarthHater

              [img]https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7032/13362785504_9190299a3a_n.jpg[/img]

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+