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chicago cubs logoIt’s Spring Break for The Wife, who is utterly despondent that the temperatures are projected to be in the 30s for most of the week. No fun in the sun for her, unless she starts driving South quickly.

  • The Cubs released a host of minor leaguers this week, according to Baseball America: RHP Carlos Gutierrez, C Yaniel Cabezas, C Carlos Escobar, C Neftali Rosario, 1B Kelvin Freeman, 3B Greg Rohan, and SS Brad Zapenas. Gutierrez is probably the best known, having been a former first round pick the Cubs picked up on waivers from the Twins after the 2012 season, but he’s never quite been healthy. Freeman was a big-time power guy from the 2013 draft, but I guess the Cubs figured there wasn’t enough else there. Rohan is versatile with a nice bat, but he’s dealt with some health issues, and I wonder if it was too much to overcome. The real interesting thing, obviously, is the punting of three catchers from a system that doesn’t have a lot of big-timers behind the plate. As Luke recently explained, though, there’s actually a fair bit of intriguing depth at the lower levels of the system, and none of the three guys released had progressed past A-ball (Escobar is the real surprise, though, because there was potential – apparently the Cubs decided it wasn’t going to click for him in the long-term).
  • Starlin Castro could start playing on the defensive side in minor league games soon, per Cubs.com – he’s already batted in a couple games. We’re a week out from Opening Day.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa (Tommy John surgery) threw 45 pitches yesterday, and is getting close to doing live batting practice (Cubs.com). If his progress continues without any setbacks, a return in late May remains a real possibility.
  • A profile on bullpen hopeful Alberto Cabrera. He’s pitched well enough this Spring, and he’s out of options. If the Cubs think there’s anything there at all, he’ll be making the team.
  • Ryan Kalish’s story made it into FanGraphs’ Sunday notes, and, in addition to the discussion of his many surgeries (which could make him the rare exception to the rule that, if a guy is out of the big leagues for three years, he’s probably done), there’s a bit on some mechanical changes he made to his swing.
  • Anthony Rizzo is working on his approach against lefties. It’s just Spring, but it’s been a success so far.
  • An interesting data analysis over at FiveThirtyEight, regarding the age old question: when does Spring performance matter? The short version is that huge Spring number or abysmal Spring numbers do adjust our expectations for a player ever-so-slightly. It’s basically a 17-to-1 correlation in terms of Spring wOBA to regular season wOBA (as in, 17 points of wOBA above a player’s expected/projected wOBA for the season would raise the expectation/projection by 1 point).
  • The Rangers are going to be without second baseman Jurickson Profar for two or three months after he tore a muscle in his shoulder. You can start running down the scenarios in your mind, though I’m not sure the Rangers are going to be too crazy about making another deal with the Cubs any time soon. More on that in a moment.
  • The opening series in Australia, from the perspective of an Australian who has never seen baseball before. Quite funny.
  • Remember that interesting story about the Astros offering prospect George Springer a seven-year contract extension before he even played in the bigs? Well, now that he was sent down to the minors to start the season (instead of starting in the big leagues, as a contract offer suggested he was ready for), there are whispers about a possible grievance being filed. If nothing else, you can be sure that, if Spring tears up AAA and is not called up until just after the projected Super Two deadline, there will be some hard feelings.
  • Your (implied) prospect porn of the day, with the original quote nabbed by AZ Central’s Zach Buchanan:

  • jh03

    Woah, I didn’t see that Kap tweet.

  • E

    Words cannot describe how much I hate auto-playing ads. Grrrrrrr

  • cub4life

    Read that this morning on MLBTrade Rumors (75% or so of what they say comes after Brett has already told us). Like hearing it but at the same time hope it doesn’t hurt any future negotiations with them.

  • Boccabella12

    Rohan will not save us. We are on our own.

    • Camiata2

      One does not simply make the Cubs minor league affiliate.

    • DarthHater

      Do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands.

    • kashbunker

      LOTR! Awesome!

  • Noah_I

    I’m curious as to how a grievance could be filed in this situation… the Astros offered Springer a major league deal, he turned it down, how would the Astros then be obligated under the CBA to call Springer up on any timeline but the one they prefer?

    • DarthHater

      The argument is that, if they offered him such a big ML contract, they have to think he’s ready to play at the ML level. Therefore, if they now keep him in the minors, it can only be for service-time reasons, which they’re not supposed to do.

      It’s a long-shot argument in any circumstances, since there’s always something a team can point to as a reason a player could benefit from more development. Add in the fact that Springer has not had a good spring and the argument is an almost sure-fire loser..

      • Q-Ball

        It’s a longshot in any case, but the fact that Springer has batted .161 this spring is probably all the Astros need to point to as justification to send him down.

      • Spoda17

        Also, as a minor leaguer, he is not protected under the CBA, so a grievance is not possible. Although they may try, but I doubt it…

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I think Rohan may catch on elsewhere. With the Cubs, he was made more or less redundant by Vitters.

    Escobar surprises me a little – he looked good in the middle of last summer – but the Cubs do have a LOT of low level catchers they need to find time for.

    • jp3

      I was thinking the same thing, vitters will probably get the lion’s share of the starts in Iowa I guess. That and some OF starts though that OF is looking pretty crowded at this point. Szczur, Jackson, ect ect

    • MattyNomad

      I kind of see it as just that too. Start seeing if our younger talent at backstop can do it FT and possibly open up some more roster spots for this years draft. Can’t truthfully say any of these names are too big of a loss for the organization….not as big as per say, Olt, Ramirez, Grimm, and Edwards [ohhhhh, sick burn!] Take that Rangers.

    • bnile1

      I wonder if they offered Rohan a chance to move to catcher??

      • champ3315

        Rohan used to play short and pitched in high school. He is a solid athlete with a nice swing. A back injury killed him last season but not many players in one season go from instructional to A to AA to AAA in the same season as he did 2 years ago. He will catch on some where.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Looks like to me that Murphy, Kalish and Coughlan are battling for one roster spot.

    That assumes an outfield of Lake, Sweeney, Schierholtz, Ruggiano and an infield of Valbuena, Castro, Barney, Rizzo, Olt, Bonafacio and a catcher mixt of Castillo and Kottaras.

    • MattyNomad

      Assuming Schierholtz is dealt this year, I could see Kalish getting that last spot. But if you ask me, Murphy is expendable. Let him go. And I keep dreaming on Coughlan putting the pieces together too, but I dont think thats too likely. If we can keep him at AAA for depth, I’d be happy.

    • King Jeff

      Not that we are looking at a bunch of all-stars or anything, but it’s nice to have the choice to take a guy for that last spot that’s got a good shot at being productive, rather than having to stick with guys like Lillibridge and Mather again.

      • MattyNomad

        Ohhhh God. I forgot about Super Joe Mather and Lillibridge…Yuck

    • Noah_I

      I think Murphy gets it unless Kalish indicates he won’t accept an assignment to the minors. Bonifacio will be more of a utility guy who will get nearly as much time in the outfield as the infield, and Murphy can play in the OF corners in a pinch.

      But if Kalish will walk if he isn’t on the MLB team, I think he gets it.

    • JadeBos

      And unless Olt is lights out at 3B & with the bat this next week I’d be ok with him getting a couple weeks of minor league mashing and confidence. He’s not had any success at AAA yet and sometimes a couple of weeks solves a lot of roster problems – injuries ect.
      I know Murphy is probably nothing but all that RH power on the bench is tantalizing.
      And yeah maybe Kalish can be talked into doing some everyday duty in AAA after his long lay off. I hope the Cubs keep him.

    • cubmig

      Based on only the limited times I’ve watched Coughlan, I like the reliability to get on base he shows when at bat. He’s not the power hitter Kalish and Murphy project, but from my observation, Coughlan adds what we need to improve our offense reliability. I’ll take that.

  • Darth Ivy

    “It’s Just Spring”

    A new phrase theme?

  • Darth Ivy

    no one’s mentioned the Australian article yet?

    It’s already on my facebook page (the BN link, not the buzzfeed link. You’re welcome, Brett ;) )

    • Darth Ivy

      oh, sh!t, I did actually post the buzzfeed link. Such forgiveness, please

  • md8232

    Send Texas Barney & filler for a prospect. Make nice with a great trading partner.

  • Beer Baron

    That piece by the Aussie comparing to cricket reminds me of when I went to a cricket match in Sydney. That is one weird sport. I was lucky enough to sit next to a guy who had lived in the US and could explain what was going on to baseball terms, but it is strange. Batters stay up until they make an out; if the batter hits the ball but doesn’t like it he doesn’t have to run; and weirdest is they took a break for tea. I was there for 8 hours and only saw 2 batters that entire time. The game didn’t end for another 4 days.

  • ssckelley

    I can’t believe they released Freeman, they just drafted him.

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

      It seems like there are one or two of those kinds of players every year.

  • Javier Bryant

    Is Casey Coleman still in the organization? I haven’t heard anything about him in about 2 years

  • dsgn1

    never heard of this guy, think he’s teased much?

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