Archive for November, 2009

State of the System: RF

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Morning Roundup

  • Rob G over at the Cub Reporter has some good info on the prospects that the Heilman trade yielded yesterday in LHP Scott Maine and 1B Ryne White. It’s a good read and worth checking out. Ultimately, it’s good to get something for Heilman, considering that he was probably going to be non-tendered this off-season. (The Cub Reporter)
  • The Cubs are not interested in bringing Pedro Martinez (Chicago Tribune)
  • Jason Stark of ESPN.com says “Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto look like the three most feasible destinations for Milton Bradley these days. But the Cubs are telling teams that (A) they’re not interested in digesting all or most of Bradley’s money (two years, $21 million) just for the sake of moving him, and (B) the hiring of his old hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, means they no longer think they have to trade him. So they seem to be zeroing in on clubs that might be willing to swap one messy contract for another. Pat Burrell would be that guy in Tampa Bay, but the money doesn’t match up and the Cubs would have to find a third team interested in Burrell. Lyle Overbay seems to fit that mold in Toronto, but the Cubs would need a third team to take him, too, since Derrek Lee is still occupying first base. And Kevin Millwood might still be a possibility with Texas, but certainly not one-for-one. Potential deals with the Angels (for Gary Matthews Jr.) and Diamondbacks (for Eric Byrnes) look dead at the moment.” (ESPN.com)
  • Saw this headline at MLB Trade Rumors “Yankees Interested In Gonzalez, Soriano?” and I almost wet myself. Unfortunately that’s not OUR Soriano.

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / CF / LF / RF/ Righty SP (Mon) / Lefty SP (Tuesday)

Contract Info for 2010

Milton Bradley – Signed through 2011 with a breakdown of $9 mil (2010) & $12 mil (2011)

Doug Deeds – Minor League FA

Brad Snyder – Minor League FA

Dylan Johnston - Rule 5 Draft Eligible unless added to the 40 man roster

Positional Summary

We round out the position players in this series with the RF position. It’s a position that has received the most amount of rumors and talk because of the Milton Bradley situation that doesn’t appear to be close to resolution. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Age PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
#Bradley, Milton 31 MAJ 473 61 17 1 12 40 2 3 66 95 .257 .378 .397 .775
Taguchi, So 39 AAA,MAJ 316 38 9 1 4 29 4 4 33 36 .249 .346 .335 .681
*Deeds, Doug 28 AA,AAA 379 57 30 3 10 38 5 3 22 78 .281 .328 .470 .798
*Colvin, Tyler 23 AA,H-A,MAJ 479 70 18 9 15 62 8 2 31 89 .282 .328 .468 .796
*Johnston, Dylan 22 H-A 194 19 6 0 4 13 3 1 18 71 .185 .259 .289 .548
*Snyder, Brad 27 AAA,win,ROK 376 54 22 4 19 66 16 5 36 91 .292 .359 .551 .910
*Burke, Kyler 21 L-A 555 93 43 3 15 89 14 2 78 99 .303 .405 .505 .911
*Perez, Nelson 21 L-A,win 497 56 21 6 12 67 3 0 23 138 .263 .300 .412 .711
Ha, Jae-Hoon 18 SS 258 31 15 0 2 37 5 5 6 31 .242 .264 .327 .590
Batista, Xavier 17 ROK 298 42 15 2 8 38 4 2 33 85 .241 .333 .409 .742
Borgues, Smaily 25 ROK 261 39 14 4 5 34 16 12 23 28 .317 .391 .478 .869
Gonzalez, Jasly 18 ROK 214 26 3 5 3 18 4 4 21 49 .178 .280 .297 .577
Morelli, Jesus 19 ROK 157 26 2 3 0 14 8 4 15 24 .279 .365 .338 .704

There are basically two names you need to know in the system for the position, Tyler & Kyler. Colvin and Burke. Both are former 1st round picks in the draft. We’ve talked about Colvin in the past, specifically how many in the scouting circles consider him an over-draft in an effort to allow flexibility in signing Jeff Samardzija in the 5th round. He had a real nice year in 2007 that prompted MiLB.com to rank him as one of the top 50 prospects in the game. Injuries in 2008 basically contributed to a regression, but a stronger 2009 merited a September cup of coffee. Where he goes at this point is interesting. He has the ability to play CF, but a corner spot is more likely for him. Ideally, I’d like to see him play RF if his arm can handle it. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008, so he should come back stronger as a result if history proves itself true. He needs to work on going the opposite way instead of being so pull crazy, but I like him.

I’m also a big Kyler Burke guy. He’s a guy Jim Hendry took a chance on in the 2007 deal that sent Michael Barrett to the Padres. In that deal, the Cubs got Burke and Rob Bowen who was eventually traded to Oakland for Jason Kendall. That’s a deal that, in my opinion, the Cubs won easily. Burke hadn’t really shown any of his promise until last year and as a result, he’s burst onto the scene in the system, winning the minor league player of the year award in the system. He doesn’t really project as much of a power guy as once was expected, primarily due to a change in his approach at the plate. If he can continue to look at making good contact, the natural power will develop. I’d project him at a 20-25 HR guy in the majors if all goes well.

2010 Free Agents at RF
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Jermaine Dye (36) – Type A
Brian Giles (39) – Type B
Vladimir Guerrero (35) – Type B
Joey Gathright (28)
Eric Hinske (32)
Geoff Jenkins (35)
Austin Kearns (30)
Jason Michaels (34)
Xavier Nady (31) – Type B
Randy Winn (36) – Type B


Photo of the Day


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Cubs Trade Aaron Heilman

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

From the Cubs Media Dept:

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired left-handed pitcher Scott Maine and first baseman Ryne White from the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman. White is a native of Chicago and is a 2005 graduate of St. Rita of Cascia High School.

Maine, 24, combined to go 4-5 with seven saves and a 2.90 ERA (20 ER/62.0 IP) in 48 relief appearances between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno in 2009, reaching Triple-A in only his third professional season. The southpaw struck out 61 batters and issued 22 walks in 62.0 innings pitched between the stops, an average of nearly one strikeout per inning and 3.2 walks per nine innings. He allowed only two home runs in 62.0 innings pitched. Maine last month also made a pair of appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, allowing three runs in 1.2 innings.

Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft, Maine is 8-7 with 13 saves and a 3.29 ERA (44 ER/120.1 IP) in 88 relief appearances covering three professional seasons. The six-foot-three, 195-pounder pitched for three seasons at the University of Miami before joining the Diamondbacks organization.

White, 23, batted .266 (111-for-418) with 18 doubles, six home runs, 52 RBI, 65 walks and a .371 on-base percentage in 116 games for Single-A Visalia last season. He was especially strong against right-handed pitching, batting .298 (78-for-262) with a .405 on-base percentage compared to a .212 (33-for-156) mark and a .313 on-base percentage vs. left-handed pitching. He is a career .275 hitter (194-for-705) with 13 home runs, 103 RBI and a .366 on-base percentage in 186 professional games the last two seasons.

After graduating from St. Rita of Cascia, White attended Purdue University and was a 2007 Big Ten Conference All-Star after batting .452 (90-for-199) with a .521 on-base percentage in 53 games for the Boilermakers. The five-foot-11, 205-pounder was selected by the Diamondbacks in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft.

Heilman, 31, went 4-4 with one save and a 4.11 ERA (33 ER/72.1 IP) in 70 relief appearances for the Cubs last season. He was acquired from Seattle for left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson and infielder Ronny Cedeno January 28, 2009. The righthander is 26-37 with 10 saves and a 4.22 ERA (245 ER/522.2 IP) in 375 major league appearances (25 starts) with the New York Mets (2003-08) and Cubs (2009).

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State of the System: Left Field

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Morning Rumor Roundup

  • The White Sox are interested in bringing in former Cub, Henry Blanco, and are reportedly not the only team interested in his services. (Chicago Breaking Sports)
  • The Cubs are not one of the teams that have inquired about Mark DeRosa. (LA Times)

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / CF / LF / RF (Fri) / Righty SP (Mon) / Lefty SP (Tuesday)

Contract Info for 2010

Alfonso Soriano – signed through 2014 at a rate of $18 mil annually. That includes a full no-trade clause and the following perks: suite on road trips, 6 premium tickets for each home game (spring training – post-season) and All Star Game (if Soriano is selected)

John Ford-Griffin – Minor League FA

Positional Summary

Today we take a look at the left field position, as much as it pains me to do so. It means we need to talk about a topic that I would rather not discuss, bad contracts.

Age PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Soriano, Alfonso 33 MAJ 522 64 25 1 20 55 9 2 40 118 .241 .303 .423 .726
*Griffin, John-Ford 29 AAA 386 39 29 3 5 40 5 2 36 87 .268 .342 .415 .757
Wright, Ty 24 AA 497 66 23 2 9 58 5 3 35 60 .290 .349 .412 .761
*Wyatt, Jonathan 24 H-A 435 44 10 1 2 33 9 5 35 67 .232 .295 .278 .572
*Rundle, Drew 21 L-A,H-A 280 29 13 2 3 23 3 3 37 82 .214 .328 .325 .653
*Andersen, Cliff 21 L-A,SS 139 9 7 1 0 11 0 0 7 45 .235 .273 .303 .576
Davis, Burundi 20 SS,ROK 209 25 7 4 2 23 11 1 17 66 .246 .325 .361 .686
Figueroa, Darlyn 19 ROK 183 26 8 1 0 15 6 5 23 44 .216 .344 .281 .625
*Cook, Glenn 24 ROK 103 11 4 1 0 8 1 4 11 32 .167 .311 .238 .549
Valdez, Rander 17 ROK 60 3 0 0 0 1 3 1 1 24 .052 .067 .052 .118
Damian, Alejandro 19 ROK 27 4 1 0 0 3 1 0 7 7 .158 .370 .211 .581
*Williams, Sean 18 ROK 11 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 .364 .364 .364 .727

Looking at the table above, I see a reason why Jim Hendry felt like it would be a good idea to sign Soriano for a multi-year deal. There simply isn’t much talent at the LF position in the system. The only top prospect from the Baseball America top 30 from last year was Ty Wright, but he’s basically a decent contact hitter with minimal home run power and average speed. He’s been a decent hitter in his three years in the system, but he really isn’t someone I could see being an impact bat in the lineup from a starter standpoint even if Soriano wasn’t around. His minor league breakdown is as follows:

Year Age Tm Lev PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 22 2 Teams A_ss-A 303 45 13 2 10 49 11 3 28 37 .308 .387 .487 .874
2008 23 Daytona A_adv 480 60 21 1 8 72 7 2 41 71 .300 .370 .411 .781
2009 24 Tennessee AA 497 66 23 2 9 58 5 3 35 60 .290 .349 .412 .761
3 Seasons 1280 171 57 5 27 179 23 8 104 168 .298 .366 .429 .795

Other than Wright, what is there? Honestly stop and thing about this for a second. If Soriano doesn’t come back and come back in a big way in 2010, what other options do we have in LF? We could try Jake Fox out there. He can’t be worse from a fielding standpoint that Soriano. Other than that, what else is there? This is a position that is sorely lacking in talent and needs to be improved. You can look at the free agent crop and see a few options. I think Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson are potential targets that could be plugged in as that guy who can be versatile in their role in the OF. Other than that, you have guys that are either too pricey, too good for a backup / platoon role, or just plain bad. Say some prayers that Soriano comes back big.

2010 Free Agents at LF
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Garret Anderson (38) – Type B
Marlon Anderson (36)
Jason Bay (31) – Type A
Emil Brown (35)
Marlon Byrd (32) – Type B
Johnny Damon (36) – Type A
David Dellucci (36)
Cliff Floyd (37)
Joey Gathright (28)
Matt Holliday (30) – Type A
Reed Johnson (33)
Greg Norton (37)
Wily Mo Pena (28)
Dave Roberts (38)
Gary Sheffield (41)
Fernando Tatis (35) – Type B
Marcus Thames (33)
Randy Winn (36) – Type B

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State of the System: CF & Minor League FA

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Before we take a look at the outfield personnel in the system, here is a breakdown of the guys in our system that were granted free agency in the minor leagues due to Rule 55.

RHP: Vince Perkins (AAA), Jose Pina (Hi A)
LHP: Casey Fossum (AAA)
C: Mark Johnson (AAA)
1B: Matt Craig (AAA)
2B: Luis Rivas (AAA), Bobby Scales (AAA), Nate Spears (AAA)
OF: Doug Deeds (AAA), John-Ford Griffin (AAA), Brad Snyder+ (AAA)

Other Notables: Bobby Brownlie (ATL), Josh Kroeger (CHA), Mark Bellhorn (COL), Tim Raines Jr. (KC), Jason Dubois (NYM), Jerome Williams (OAK), Rocky Cherry (SD), Ryan Freel (TEX), Daryle Ward & Freddie Bynum (WAS)

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / CF / LF (Thur) / RF (Fri) / Righty SP (Mon) / Lefty SP (Tuesday)

Contract info for 2010

Kosuke Fukudome – Signed through 2011 with a salary of $13 and $13.5 mil respectively

Reed Johnson – Free Agent

Sam Fuld – Auto Renewal at league minimum

Positional Summary

A look at the system probably needs to be summarized based on the position, considering that most of the OF don’t have the range that allows them to play all three OF spots. We’ll break it down with guys classified based on the table below that qualified at CF.

Age PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
*Fukudome, Kosuke 32 MAJ 603 79 38 5 11 54 6 10 93 112 .259 .375 .421 .796
Johnson, Reed 32 MAJ,L-A 194 25 10 2 4 22 2 1 14 27 .257 .337 .409 .746
*Fuld, Sam 27 AAA,MAJ 485 79 23 11 3 35 25 6 55 34 .287 .370 .414 .784
*Adduci, James 24 AA 534 63 21 4 4 51 35 12 58 76 .300 .377 .388 .765
Guyer, Brandon 23 H-A,AA 510 62 28 5 3 46 30 7 34 67 .282 .339 .385 .724
*Campana, Tony 23 H-A,L-A 531 70 9 3 0 30 66 18 39 84 .284 .336 .315 .651
*Jackson, Brett 20 L-A,SS,ROK 249 50 6 3 8 36 13 2 31 56 .318 .418 .488 .906
#Valdez, Jose 21 SS,L-A 245 30 4 2 0 16 25 8 15 36 .313 .360 .348 .708
*Guzman, Francisco 21 ROK,L-A,SS,H-A 298 58 3 2 0 20 37 10 53 52 .238 .378 .268 .645
*Ramirez, Alvaro 23 ROK 238 40 7 4 2 30 24 7 21 17 .372 .457 .477 .935
#Robles, Gregorio 18 ROK 212 27 4 2 0 12 10 9 18 45 .222 .297 .265 .561
Pestana, Manuel 19 ROK 108 18 3 2 0 6 5 7 9 13 .239 .340 .315 .655
*Gonzalez, Eduardo 17 ROK 7 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 .333 .429 .333 .762

Looking above, I see a guy in Fukudome who is essentially a RF that was forced to play CF and did an acceptable job doing so. Was he outstanding from a fielding standpoint? No, but that’s probably because he’s not a natural CF by nature. Assuming Bradley is slated to be traded, that puts Fukudome back in RF at this point unless the Cubs upgraded that position instead. Judging by the Granderson rumors, it’s safe to say that CF is the priority for Hendry this off-season. While I’m not thrilled about what Fukudome turned into, especially if he ends up playing a corner OF spot, you can’t really say he’s been terrible. We saw a few weeks ago that he outplayed his contract, according to the Fan Graphs value system, each year he has been in the league. (Fan Graphs)

I see a free agent in Reed Johnson that I’d like to have back in the money was right, but who is coming off an injury that took a lot longer to heal than expected, is aging, and wasn’t really all that productive when he was in the game.Remember that we got Johnson off the scrap heap early in 2008 and caught lightning in the bottle all year. I don’t know what he’ll command in free agency this year, but my guess is it’s money we could save in an effort to give a guy like Fuld a shot.

I see a guy in Sammy Fuld who is a fan favorite and can probably fill the role Johnson filled as the 4th outfielder at a cheaper price. He plays hard, is a very disciplined hitter that draws walks and runs the bases well. He’s an intelligent player that knows the game. He’s paid his dues and deserves the shot Johnson has had over the past two years.

I see dead people.

I see a guy in Brett Jackson that excites the crap out of me. Baseball America recently said “More than just a slugger, Jackson is the best athlete in the system. His quick bat and the loft in his swing give him well-above-average raw power. He uses his plus speed well on the bases and in center field, and he also has solid arm strength with good accuracy on his throws. He plays with constant energy.” (Baseball America) These were the things we heard about a can’t miss prospect that missed in Felix Pie and Corey Patterson. You know what they say, third time’s a charm.

I see a guy that can be a future all purpose guy that plays with wreck-less abandon in Brandon Guyer. Arizona Phil mentioned “Guyer has above-average speed, and is an aggressive base-runner and a good base-stealer (he had 30 SB and only 7 CS combined at Daytona and Tennessee in 2009).” (The Cub Reporter)

2010 Free Agents at OF
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Rick Ankiel (30)
Rocco Baldelli (28)
Marlon Byrd (32) – Type B
Mike Cameron (37) – Type B
Endy Chavez (32)
Coco Crisp (30)
Darin Erstad (36)
Jeff Fiorentino (27)
Ryan Freel (34)
Joey Gathright (28)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Reed Johnson (33)
Andruw Jones (33)
Corey Patterson (30)
Scott Podsednik (34)
DeWayne Wise (32)

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Like I Was Sayin’…

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

This one is by Mike Royko, is titled “Like I was Sayin’…”, and features his likeness on the cover, decked out in Superman garb complete with red cape and boots. I was in a Chicago branch library and it jumped out at me as one I hadn’t read yet, at least not lately. It is a compilation of 100 of his newspaper columns, originally published between 1966 and 1984.

The first conclusion I arrived at while reading this book is that Mike Royko is a helluva good writer. As the Albuquerque Journal is quoted on the inside front jacket cover:

- “Newspaper columnists fall into five general categories. Those categories, in ascending order, are: 1) Bad. 2) Good. 3) Very Good. 4) Outstanding. 5) Mike Royko. And that, as they say, is that. Royko is the best; nobody comes close to Royko; God made only one Royko and that’s too bad.”

The second conclusion I arrived at while enjoying Mr. Royko’s Chicago-centric view of the world is how proud I am to share his Native Chicagoan’s outlook. As Tom Waits once observed: this “allows us a perspective that’s unique”.

Although few of the topics covered in these columns are appropriate for discussion on a sports blog such as this, as couple of them are.

The column originally published on April 5, 1979 concerns opening days at Wrigley Field. With regard to the 1969 season Mr. Royko reminisces:

- “We all remember what happened that season. It was the best Cub team in thirty years. No 4-Fs. No strange mutants. For the first time in three decades, the players were better athletes than the grounds crew.
“It didn’t help. When the crunch came, the Cubs swallowed their tongues, and New York, in its greed, had another championship. Since that season I have made a point of seeing the movie “Fail Safe” every time it is on TV because the movie ends with New York being nuked.”

The January 25, 1980 column concerns the military draft (ie., “Selective Service”). Mr. Royko, speaking for us all, proclaims:

- “If this country has to start the military draft again, I hope that this time we do it right.
“Please, no more professional athletes and sons of politicians being magically jumped to the top of the list for stay-home service in the reserves.
“There was nothing as ludicrous during the Vietnam War as the sight of magnificent physical specimens throwing seventy-five-yard passes while being cheered by people whose own spindly legged sons were slogging through rice paddies.”

- “First of all, a draft should be run as a hundred-percent lottery system…. The lottery should also apply to to the reserves. Let luck decide who will be a weekend warrior. That way a punch-press operator will have as much a chance to sit it out at home as a star quarterback or the sons of a Chicago mayor.”

- “Before anyone writes me any outraged letters, let me say that I’d rather not see the draft restored. I have two sons who will have to register.
“I just want it run fairly.
“If it is done my way, we might some day see Hamilton Jordan, John Travolta, Bob Dylan, and almost the entire Cub team in military uniforms.”

And regarding our currently downtrodden Chicago Bears, Mr. Royko presciently observed in a column published twenty six years ago today, (November 17, 1983):

- “…I’ve never seen any point in sitting in a movie theater or in front of my TV set for two or three hours just to wind up depressed when the hero lies crumpled in the dust or the heroine coughs her fragile life away.
“That’s why I never watch Bears games anymore. The average Bears fan doesn’t realize it, but he’s reducing his life expectancy by the stress and depression brought on by watching these weekly tragedies.”

The Washington Post referred to Mike Royko as “a national treasure”. I’d go along with that.

We miss you, Mike.

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State of the System: Third Base & Granderson

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Before we take a look at the third base position, I wanted to point out a few things I’ve read over the last few days to make sure we stay somewhat current on the hot stove rumors.

Curtis Granderson Rumors

I’ve been hearing Granderson rumors like they’re going out of style. It’s as if the media locks in on one guy each off-season for this team and beats it like a drum until something happens. We saw it with Brian Roberts and we saw it with Jake Peavy. We even saw it way back when with guys like Mike Hampton, Barry Zito, Carlos Beltran, etc. We lock onto a guy and never want to rest. That being said, here are the notes I’ve found on it.

Jim Callis of Baseball America said:

“I’d rank them Cubs 1, Yankees 2, Angels 3.
“A huge factor in this is how far the clubs would be willing to get him, but the Cubs would be in a better position to put together a Granderson deal than the Yankees and Angels. If the Cubs wanted to include Starlin Castro, which might be a little crazy but they do have a lot of middle-infield talent on the way up, they could easily get a deal done. Even without Castro, they could put together a bat like Josh Vitters with an arm like Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson or Chris Carpenter. If the Tigers were willing to take a talent further away from the majors, they could ask for Hak-Ju Lee, if the Cubs didn’t want to part with Castro.
“The Cubs have enough interesting young players to put together a package and still have talent remaining. The Yankees’ best prospect is slugger Jesus Montero, but I’m not sure they’d part with him. Even if they would, I don’t think he’s going to be a catcher, so you’re betting 100 percent on his bat. The Cubs could offer someone with much more positional value as a centerpiece and better secondary players in the deal.
“The Angels don’t have the same depth as the Cubs. I assume they’d try to build a deal around Brandon Wood, but I don’t think they could match the Cubs if the Cubs decide they have to have Granderson. And the Angels already have Torii Hunter, so I don’t think they’d want him as badly.”
Maybe I’m missing something here, but Granderson doesn’t seem to be the player that solves all of our woes. There is not a question in my mind that he would be a great fit from the standpoint that he would provide a lefty power stick that can play a great CF, but I’m not sure that he’s worth the price tag of some guys that I consider core parts of the infield in the next 3-4 years. It’s not that I’m that guy that never wants to deal prospects to get talent. That’s not the case at all. I simply don’t see the worth in Granderson to merit a guy like Castro or Vitters. If you want to look at a package that includes someone like Cashner or Jackson or even someone like Jeff Samardzija, I’m fine with that. I’m just not touching the other two for Granderson. Am I being too shrewd?
Carrie Muskat mentioned “Granderson would fill the leadoff spot”. How do you figure? Why is it that just being fast means you’re the best candidate for the leadoff spot. Granderson’s on base % was a mere .327 last year where he spent the majority of the time in the leadoff position. If we did bring him in, he’s NOT my leadoff man. Give that spot to Fukudome or Theriot with the other hitting 2nd.
Speaking of Castro and Vitters, Project Prospect mentioned both of them in their AFL Rundown – Week 5 post:
Starlin Castro is silky smooth at the plate and on defense. I’ve quickly become enamored with his balanced swing and quick wrists. You don’t need to be a swing mechanics expert to appreciate it his stroke — it really is a thing of beauty. And while his swing won’t lead to high home run totals, so long as he’s playing strong defense at an up-the-middle position and hitting a lot of line drives, he’ll continue to move quickly.
After watching Josh Vitters take infield closely last night, I do not expect him to stick at third base. He has decent hands, OK footwork and a solid arm, but he looks stiff when he fields the ball. Maybe he sticks at the position a bit longer. But he’s the Tin Man in need of oil compared to some of the other third basemen out here.

Now we continue our state of the system series today with the final infield position, third base. It was a sore spot for the team when Aramis Ramirez went out with the shoulder injury. We were shown the lack of depth at the position at that point and played just about everyone over there in an effort to piece things together while Ramirez healed. Let’s take a look at what the system looked like at the position for 2009 and moving forward.

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B (Tues) / OF (Wed) / Righty SP (Thur) / Lefty SP (Fri)

Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Vitters, Josh 19 L-A,H-A,win 536 67 22 4 18 71 6 3 14 72 .291 .321 .457 .778
Smith, Marquez 24 AA,H-A 505 65 35 1 15 67 5 1 38 95 .278 .337 .457 .794
#Scales, Bobby 31 AAA,MAJ 498 56 23 3 8 54 8 8 57 93 .267 .360 .391 .751
*Spears, Nate 24 AAA 411 48 20 4 2 37 6 5 35 43 .253 .319 .345 .665
Ramirez, Aramis 31 MAJ,L-A 351 48 15 1 15 66 2 1 31 43 .321 .396 .519 .915
Pena, Juan 19 ROK 287 48 18 5 5 40 2 2 32 53 .258 .352 .434 .786
Rohan, Greg 23 SS 258 34 14 1 4 21 1 0 16 36 .249 .315 .369 .684
Altagracia, Joel 17 ROK 255 28 17 0 5 25 3 1 21 82 .206 .283 .346 .630
Matheus, George 20 SS 234 22 5 1 0 22 2 4 20 41 .229 .299 .262 .561
Petraitis, Jordan 22 ROK,SS 193 22 9 0 3 18 4 2 15 53 .201 .285 .308 .593
Contreras, Willson 17 ROK 130 13 5 2 1 6 2 2 10 26 .205 .305 .313 .617
Weimer, Chris 22 ROK 56 10 3 0 0 6 2 1 5 11 .239 .357 .304 .661

Contract info for 2010

Aramis Ramirez – Signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012. (2010 salary – $15.75mil)

Bobby Scales & Nate Spears – Eligible to become a minor league free agent (Rule 55)

Positional Summary

I mentioned above that I’m not about trading a guy like Vitters. Here is where we see some of the reason I take that position. In my mind, he’s more untouchable that Castro, if I had to choose, despite the fact that Baseball America ranked him lower that Castro in their most recent top prospect list for the system. The reason I am of this opinion is because of the stark lack of depth at the hot corner in our system coupled with the fact that prior to Ramirez, third base was a black hole for this organization. I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m keeping Vitters. Could he be Kevin Orie? Sure, but you’ll never know unless you give him a chance. For all we know, Granderson could be Soriano. Outside of Vitters, what do you honestly see in this system at the position that can supplant Ramirez? Marquez Smith is the only name in the system that would be a possibility, but he’s not someone that can be an impact bat for this team for years to come. His ceiling is simply not that high. Take a look at his numbers so far since coming to the system:

Year Age Lev PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 22 A_ss-A 308 50 14 1 8 55 1 2 44 48 .280 .380 .436 .816
2008 23 A-A_adv 506 71 27 5 17 66 1 3 47 94 .278 .354 .475 .830
2009 24 AA-A_adv 505 65 35 1 15 67 5 1 38 95 .278 .337 .457 .794
3 Seasons 1319 186 76 7 40 188 7 6 129 237 .279 .354 .459 .813

I’m not overwhelmed and neither are you. Vitters has to be untouchable right now.

2010 Free Agents at SS
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Rich Aurilia (38)
Brian Barden (29)
Adrian Beltre (31) – Type B
Aaron Boone (37)
Craig Counsell (39)
Joe Crede (32)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Pedro Feliz (35)
Chone Figgins (32) – Type A
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Troy Glaus (33) – Type B
Adam Kennedy (34)
Mike Lamb (34)
Mark Loretta (38)
Melvin Mora (38) – Type B
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Robb Quinlan (33)
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Juan Uribe (31)

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State of the System: Shortstop

Monday, November 16th, 2009

We continue to trip through the system today with a look at the SS position.

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B (Tues) / OF (Wed) / Righty SP (Thur) / Lefty SP (Fri)

Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Theriot, Ryan 29 MAJ 677 81 20 5 7 54 21 10 51 93 .284 .343 .369 .712
Castro, Starlin 19 H-A,AA,win 569 68 25 7 4 57 32 13 32 59 .312 .355 .410 .765
Barney, Darwin 23 AA,AAA 513 55 24 1 3 49 9 2 36 65 .293 .339 .369 .708
Lake, Junior 19 L-A 491 71 19 7 7 42 10 7 18 138 .248 .277 .365 .642
#Blanco, Andres 25 AAA,MAJ,win 485 61 33 4 8 57 12 4 30 50 .289 .338 .441 .779
#Gonzalez, Marwin 20 H-A,win 463 45 16 4 2 34 9 8 26 78 .242 .288 .312 .600
Mota, Jonathan 22 AA,win 397 35 19 3 2 24 3 6 38 60 .243 .332 .334 .667
*Lee, Hak-Ju 18 SS 304 56 14 2 2 33 25 8 31 50 .330 .399 .420 .820
#Alcantara, Arismendy 17 ROK 293 44 11 8 3 32 20 2 30 47 .275 .349 .415 .764
#Bautista, Robert 20 ROK,L-A 201 28 5 6 1 18 15 3 11 70 .208 .255 .317 .572
LeMahieu, DJ 20 L-A,ROK 182 21 4 3 0 34 3 2 13 25 .323 .376 .384 .760
#Disla, Rafael 18 ROK 182 25 6 2 0 15 19 4 36 34 .248 .408 .319 .727
*Darvill, Wes 17 ROK 148 18 1 0 0 15 7 1 13 31 .223 .295 .231 .525

Contract info for 2010

Ryan Theriot – Eligible for salary arbitration

Andres Blanco – Auto-Renewal

Positional Summary

The system at SS excites me more than it has in quite a while. When I look at the list above, I see three guys that I like a lot. Stalin Castro, Hak-Ju Lee and DJ LeMahieu all excite me, though LeMahieu will probably not project as a SS as he gets older because of his size. Castro is the one we’ve been hearing the most about, even as much as the possibility that he could be on the big league roster in 2010. I wouldn’t go that far yet, despite the fact that he’s playing great in the Arizona Fall League, but the fact remains that Ryan Theriot is on notice. I don’t think Theriot has done anything wrong, but if Castro is ready and can be a better player, he needs to get a shot. Theriot has value to this team, especially if he were to move to 2B. For info purposes, here are our AFL player’s stats.

Pos Age G PA ▾ R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Castro, Starlin SS 19 16 60 12 24 2 1 1 8 4 2 3 6 .429 .467 .554 1.020
Vitters, Josh 3B 19 12 52 4 18 3 1 0 3 0 2 2 7 .360 .385 .460 .845
Castillo, Welington C 22 4 16 1 5 0 0 1 2 0 0 2 5 .357 .438 .571 1.009
Brenly, Michael DH 22 2 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 1.000 1.250
Mesa Solar Sox Avg 21.0 .283 .349 .432 .781
win-AFL Lg Averages 22.1 .284 .362 .444 .806

Vitters and Castro are the hitters who are getting the most time and are making the most of it. I’d like to see Castro draw more walks, which would make him a viable leadoff man that would be able to take advantage of his speed at the top of the order. Arizona Phil ranks Castro at # 3 in his recent prospect top 15 list, saying:

Castro has been everything the Cubs hoped Ronny Cedeno would be, but never was. I can’t recall any Cubs minor leaguer who has developed faster than Starlin Castro. Signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, Castro made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2007, where he hit .299 with 13 SB in 60 games. Then in 2008, Castro came to the U. S. and was a part-time SS-2B-3B at Fitch Park (AZL Cubs), where he hit 311/364/464 and played good defense at all three INF positions. While he showed some promise both in the DSL in 2007 and in the AZL in 2008, Castro really responded to coaching in the AZ Instructional League post-2008 (where he was easily the most-improved player from beginning to end) and at Minor League Camp this past March, earning him a “challenge” promotion all the way up to Advanced-“A” Daytona (Florida State League) on Opening Day 2009 (skipping both Boise and Peoria). And he accepted the challenge, too, hitting 302/340/391 in 96 games for the D-Cubs while earning a spot in the FSL All-Star Game and a mid-season promotion to AA Tennessee. Castro continued to hit at Tennessee (288/347/396), and helped lead the Smokies into the Southern League playoffs. Then he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League post-2009, where he presently leads the AFL in hitting while playing stellar defense at SS. Castro is still somewhat impatient at the plate (only 66/110 BB/K in 977 career PA), and seems to prefer to hit “first-ball fastball.” Although he also played 2B and 3B prior to the 2009 season, Castro played only SS at Daytona and Tennessee in 2009. He has plus-range and a strong arm, and while he made 39 errors (combined) at Daytona & Tennessee this past season, he has made only one error so far in the AFL while making several spectacular stops & throws, and he played in the AFL “Rising Stars” this past weekend. He has put on about 15 pounds over the past couple of years (and he still has room to grow) and could develop HR power as he matures (he’s still only 19). Castro is his own player, but he reminds me a little bit of a young Edgar Renteria – (Source)

At the beginning of the season, Deric McKamey said in the 2009 Minor League Baseball Analyst:

Athletic/light-framed infielder with above average speed and the contact ability to hit for BA. Lacks the strength/bat speed hit for power and will need to draw more walks. Possesses plus range, soft hands, and instincts, which off-sets average arm strength.

John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com had this to say in his 2009 prospect handbook:

A Dominican signed in 2006, Castro performed well in his North American debut in the Arizona Rookie League. He has power potential and has shown the ability to hit for average so far, though his strike zone judgment could use some work. His speed is average, but he is a good athlete, has a strong throwing arm, and can play second base, third base and shortstop without hurting you. The Cubs expect to pair him with AZL teammate Junior Lake in the middle infield at higher levels, though it remains to be seen who will play what position. Castro is a long way away, but he could end up being very good if he can develop the skills to go with his tools.

The fact that last year, coming into the season, Sickels mentioned that he was “a long way away” and his young age has me worried that we’ll rush this kid through the system and he won’t be able to make the proper adjustments to smart pitchers who know how to pitch to guys weaknesses.

As for Hak-Ju Lee and DJ LeMahieu, both are young but give me a lot of excitement and hope that in the next few years we’ll see a nice crop of middle infield talent coming through this system.


2010 Free Agents at SS
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Orlando Cabrera (35) – Type A, can’t be offered arbitration
Juan Castro (38)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Adam Everett (33)
Chris Gomez (39)
Alex Gonzalez (32)
Nick Green (31)
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
John McDonald (35)
Luis Rodriguez (30)
Marco Scutaro (34) – Type A
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Wilson Valdez (32)
Omar Vizquel (43)
Jack Wilson (32) – $8.4MM club option with a $600K buyout

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Cancer, anyone?

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

It’s been just over a year since The World’s Greatest Cubs Fan (my dad) received a cancer diagnosis from his physician. Just over a year since the major surgery to remove that cancerous lesion. And just under a year since the catastrophic chemotherapy which really changed our lives. That’s my justification (weak though it may be) for posting this review.

“Cancer On $5 A Day” is an outstanding book, primarily for two reasons:
1. The author, Robert Schimmel is a stand-up comic, so there’s humor involved, and,
2. His first person descriptions of what chemotherapy was like helped me to understand what my dad went through during this past year.

The complete title is “Cancer on $5 A Day* (*chemo not included) – How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life”, by Robert Schimmel with Alan Eisenstock. It was published in 2008.

The author describes himself as a comedian’s comic who appears regularly on Howard Stern and Conan O’Brien, who’d won the Stand-Up Comic of the Year, whose HBO and Showtime specials were huge hits, who has best-selling CDs, and whose Fox sitcom had just been picked up when his cancer was diagnosed. I never heard of him.

His chemotherapy began within 48 hours of receiving the diagnosis of Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, triggering a life-altering series of events.

Stories about the doctors, nurses, staff, fellow patients, his extended family, career ramifications, a wig salesman, treatment options (including medical marijuana and prosthetic testicles), personal reactions and first hand recollections are presented humorously.

Here’s a quote from the author’s dedication page: “Take it from me, laughter is the best medicine.”

Upon receiving his cancer diagnosis the author’s attitude parallels that of one-time cancer patient Michael Landon: “If I don’t beat cancer, I’ll die trying.” Unfortunately, Mr. Landon did die trying.

Mr. Schimmel’s treatment phase lasted about 6 months, at the end of which his cancer was officially declared to be “in remission”. It is those 6 months that this book is about.

Here are excerpts from two testimonials on the book’s back cover:
- “Robert Schimmel always made me laugh. Now he makes me laugh and cry at the same time.” Billy Crystal

- “A very important read.” Howie Mandel

It has been said that people would much rather be entertained than educated. What author Robert Schimmel has done here is to have educated me while entertaining me at the same time.

I recommend this book to anyone even peripherally involved in a cancer situation, or to anyone with a casual interest in “What happens next?” when the words “You have cancer!” are spoken.

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GirlieView (11/13/2009)

Friday, November 13th, 2009

So Zambrano won another Silver Slugger award. I kinda wish he didn’t. First: he needs no more food for his already overweight ego. Second: it has the potential to serve as some sort of validation in his mind that he’s a hitter. I wouldn’t care except that he’s such a hothead to begin with, which as we’ve seen often derails his pitching. The more interest he puts into his hitting, the more likely he is to get upset when he doesn’t come through. And we all know what happens when he gets upset. I’m so over Zambrano. Now if only he’d get over himself!

Have a great weekend!

Lizzies

  • For me personally, “A Day in the Bleachers” recreates Cubs baseball with my dad at Wrigley Field. Day games. Bleachers. The community of like minded Cubs fans.
  • Can’t say I dig the Freshlook Colorblend Hazel contact lens on Sammy
  • How about the DH versus the the pitcher hitting? We can use those as placeholders for every argument we have here.
  • Thank goodness for Lee not being a FA this year, else he’d be the cream of the crop by far.
  • Use Miles as a throw in for anyone willing to send back a bag of balls and 6 maple bats.

Lizard

  • The Cubs should pay Miles the 2.7 million to stay home.
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