The Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations met with the media yesterday, and, in addition to Theo Epstein’s comments about Kris Bryant’s promotion schedule, he addressed a wide range of topics. You can see his remarks here at CSN, here at Cubs.com, here at ESPN, here at Cubs.com, here at ESPN, here at CBS, and here at CSN, among other places. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s all good stuff.
The gist of Epstein’s thoughts on a variety of subjects …
- Manny Ramirez is expected to finally arrive at AAA Iowa next week. He hasn’t been sitting on his duff in Mesa, however, where he’s been working with young Cubs prospects, and particularly rehabbing outfielder Jorge Soler. Not that working with a guy turns you into that guy, but how about some Jorge Soler as a mini-Manny Ramirez dreams? Ah. That’s nice.
- Trade rumors and discussions are much more prevalent on the web and in newspapers right now than in front offices, according to Epstein. I’m sure that’s probably true. I also believe something I heard a couple years back – I think it was from Kevin Goldstein, who went from the online media world to the front office world – that only about 8% of what we hear out here in our world is actually legitimately on point and relevant in the front office world. There is a LOT going on behind the scenes that we never hear about … and a LOT that we hear about that is totally bogus. We do the best we can, obviously.
- The Cubs aren’t worried about Albert Almora’s tough first half at High-A. What Almora is going through is very much what the Cubs expect to happen to every prospect at some point: he’s going through significant struggles, and learning to adjust. The Cubs still believe Almora is the best pure hitter in the system, says Epstein, and he’s got the right attitude and approach to work through this. I’d add that he’s just 20-years-old at High-A, he’s not striking out, and he’s got a really low BABIP. That’s not the entire story, as he’s not making enough hard contact, but that all provides additional context. And, according to all eyes that have been on him, his center field defense remains excellent.
- Epstein explained that Arodys Vizcaino is a big league pitcher, and his being in the minor leagues is basically still the product of him coming back from his surgeries and time off. It sounds like he only recently started using his breaking pitch more regularly, which, like, what would his numbers look like if he’d been using it all year!? Once Vizcaino is fully back to where he was, is fully comfortable with his range of pitches, he’ll be up with the big club. He’s that good.
- Epstein said the main thing that Armando Rivero, the Cubs’ other dynamite right-handed reliever that was just promoted to AAA, is to work on his fastball command. He’s got a wipeout slider and good velocity, but better hitters could take advantage of his poor fastball command (either because he’s not hitting his spots or because he’s out of the zone).
- It sounds like Epstein was confirming recent comments from Kane County manager Mark Johnson about the plan for Kyle Schwarber defensively. For now, he’ll see most of his time in left field, and then, after the season, the Cubs will figure out the plan for him long-term. Epstein explicitly mentioned the possibility that the bat could simply be too good to risk being held back by the necessarily slow nature of catcher development.
- Epstein also mentioned that Schwarber could be an Arizona Fall League candidate. Eeeeeeeeh!