The big news last night was the Kane County Cougars, the Cubs’ Low-A affiliate, bringing home the Midwest League championship. Despite obvious roster turnover throughout the season, the Cougars were the best team in the entire league from end to end – they didn’t even lose a single playoff game. What does that mean for the future? Maybe not too much, though that pitching staff was full of interesting guys who could emerge as meaningful prospects in the near-term. All in all, I just think it’s cool when these young guys get to experience a playoff run, and then get a ring (as Daytona did last year, for example).
Also: a big thanks to Luke for his outstanding minor league coverage this season. Just like you guys, I would wake up in the morning with excitement to see what Luke had waiting for me.
- Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio was on the radio yesterday with Bruce Levine and Wayne Randazzo, speaking at length about the Cubs’ pitching situation (you can see a transcript here at the CCO). Among other things, Bosio was effusive in his praise for Hector Rondon and the work they’ve accomplished together since the Cubs got him as a Rule 5 pick before the 2013 season. He also discussed why Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm are in the bullpen, rather than starting, and emphasized that having that many power arms at the back of the pen is so valuable because of the interchangeability. Bosio sees a bright future for the Cubs’ pen, if, in his words, they can add one more “legit” lefty and another power righty. Not unlike the rotation, the bullpen battle next Spring is going to be fierce.
- (And, given how bullpens turnover during the course of a season, even if the Cubs go with just five righties and two lefties to start the year, having huge depth at AAA – which the Cubs should have – will come into play at some point for sure.)
- Matt Szczur was fortunate to have family and friends in attendance (Cubs.com) for his big game last night, including his first homer.
- Jeff Sullivan reminds us that even the best player in baseball can go through a protracted stretch of contact problems (whiffing and weak contact) when pitchers change their approach. In this instance, it looks like Mike Trout has been beaten by high fastballs for the better part of two months now.
- Tony Andracki with a good read on Josh Vitters, even as it’s something of a bummer to feel like you’re reading a farewell letter, complete with hopeful quotes from Vitters. Given the expected impending roster crunch, it’s possible that Vitters, 25, is taken off the 40-man roster this offseason (at which point he would become a free agent). While there will be a number of teams lining up to sign him to a minor league deal, you can understand why the Cubs might feel like they have to move on after Vitters hit just .213/.268/.339 this year with ugly K and BB numbers – a season that followed a 2013 campaign wrecked by injuries.
- And now that you’ve been bummed out, how about a positive, long, local read on C.J. Edwards? Edwards missed a few months this season with a shoulder strain, but he’ll head to the Arizona Fall League to help make up some of those innings. Assuming he comes out of it productive and healthy, Edwards will be on the radar for 2015, perhaps as soon as midseason (and maybe helping in the big league bullpen to get his feet wet).