Archive for January, 2012

Handicapping the Non-Roster Invitees

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Yesterday, the Cubs announced the names of the players who are not a part of the 40 man roster who have been invited to compete for a big league job in spring training. The list is:

Nine pitchers – righthanders Marco Carrillo, Manuel Corpas, Jay Jackson, Rodrigo Lopez, Trey McNutt, Blake Parker and Dae-Eun Rhee and lefthanders Trever Miller and Chris Rusin.

Three catchers –  Michael Brenly, Jason Jaramillo and Blake Lalli.

Five infielders – Alfredo Amezaga, Edgar Gonzalez, Jonathan Mota, Bobby Scales and Matt Tolbert

Four outfielders – Jim Adduci, Jae-Hoon Ha, Brett Jackson and Joe Mather.

For those not familiar with the process, for a player to be on the active roster during the season, they must be on the 40 man roster and for a player to be removed from that 40 man roster they must be placed on irrevocable waivers. What that means is that the process to just add and remove a player from the 40 man roster is not one that is done flippantly. Another caveat is the fact that anyone with a big league contract must be on the 40 man roster. All that being said, the Cubs roster stands at 40 players right now, which means for someone from this list to be added out of camp someone else must be removed.

Before we break down the names on the list above that have a shot, we first need to examine the 40 man roster as it stands currently and look for potential openings.

At the catcher position, the Cubs are carrying three names. Geovany Soto is a lock as is top catching prospect Wellington Castillo. Steve Clevenger occupies the other spot and could be removed without consequence should one of the names above warrant the spot. I would strike Brenly’s name right off the top as he’s only on the list because of his last name. I would also strike Lalli’s name because I see him primarily as a first baseman. That just leaves Jaramillo who some feel has a decent chance of opening the year as the backup catcher to allow Castillo to continue to develop. Personally, I like the versatility that Clevenger brings to the table over Jaramillo. He’s played primarily at the catcher position in the minors, but has also seen a fair share of time at third as well as second. Jaramillo is strictly a catcher. I’m a fan of versatility so I give the nod to Clevenger, but it’s going to be a battle for that spot on the 40 man.

Looking at the infielders on the 40 man roster, there’s really only one name with the potential to be removed, Junior Lake. To be honest, I’m not sure why he was given a spot on the 40 man roster over Ryan Flaherty. As a result, Flaherty was selected in the Rule 5 draft. Unfortunately, the names invited to camp are less than impressive. If I had to lay odds I’d give Bobby Scales the best shot at making the team out of camp, but that’s a very outside chance.

The outfield, much like the infield, is involved in a decent sized log jam. Barring a trade before opening day, the only names I could see that would make sense to remove from the 40 man would be Tony Campana or Dave Sappelt, who was brought in as part of the Sean Marshall deal this off-season. Considering the fact that Sappelt was just brought in, it’s hard to imagine he’d immediately be out so that leaves just Campana, but his job appears safe. Jackson is the obvious name that will eventually be part of this team, but he’s not coming up without a place to play every day. Ha is too young at this point so that Adduci and Mather, neither of which deserve a spot. Not really much intrigue in the outfield just yet unless Brett Jackson plays himself into a job.

That leaves the pitchers, which is anyone’s guess. The names that stand out on the list for me are Miller, who was just signed and could provide a veteran lefty presence in the pen if he has anything left in the tank, and Lopez who may have shown enough last year to earn a shot to at least show what he can do as a long man out of the pen. Personally, I’ve always been a Jay Jackson guy, so I’d love to see him come into spring guns blazing and earn himself a job, but it’s a long shot. There are definitely spots available, with a name like Casey Weathers holding down a spot he probably doesn’t deserve.

Overall, nothing overly intriguing about the list, but there are definitely spots to be had should someone reach out and grab them.

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Morning News: Staving Off the Pre-Super Bowl Malaise

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


Strike One: Free Agent Free-For-All reports the race for Cuban refuge Yoenis Cespedes is about to heat up.  The new Dominican Republic resident will travel to the US in the next week or so to begin meeting with teams interested in signing him–including the Cubs.  MLBTR also links to a story from Baseball America that projects Cespedes as one of the top fifteen prospects if when he signs with a team.  With Theo and Jed wanting to get younger and emphasize player development, the speedy outfielder might be the kind of free agent target they’re looking for.  And be sure to check back this afternoon for Joe’s post on the wave of non-roster invitees the Cubs are bringing to Mesa next month.

Ball One:  Quick Hits  Elsewhere around the league, the Brewers signed ex-Cub Corey Patterson to a minor league deal… Pat Burrell retired… the new owner of the Astros has decided not to change the name of team after all… Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson has lost a step, but it seems he’ll be OK… and the A’s are open to signing Manny Ramirez, although I doubt they will.

Strike Two:  Headgear Selection (Non-Corso Edition)  Tomorrow is National Signing Day for high school football recruits, and ESPNU will be running televised coverage all day.  I’m generally a college football fan, and I’m eager to see who my Oklahoma State Cowboys pick up.  But I think the fervor around high school recruiting may be getting out of hand.  Exhibit A: the number one recruit in the country, Dorial Green-Beckham, recently had an in-school visit from Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who landed his helicopter on the high school’s baseball field.  A cool, attention-grabbing move, to be sure, but is it the kind of attention we should be heaping on high school seniors?  Do we really need all-day coverage of seventeen and eighteen year-olds dramatically choosing hats in front of the national media?  In spite of all that, will I probably tune in throughout the day to see who OSU picked up?  Probably.

Foul Tip:  Save Ferris  A frightening percentage of Sunday’s Super Bowl audience will tune in not for the game, but for the commercials.  While some Super Bowl ads have lived up to the considerable hype, most of them fall far short.  Early indications point to further disappointment on Sunday, when Honda will unleash this abomination on the viewing public.  I have not driven the all-new CRV.  For all I know, it’s the finest small SUV ever built.  But make no mistake–it is exactly the kind of car Ferris Bueller famously eschewed for a stolen Italian classic.  No amount of tweaked quotes and vague visual callbacks can salvage this half-hearted attempt to recapture the magic of John Hughes’ 80’s classic.  And what happened to Matthew Broderick?  It’s like he exchanged all his Bueller-esque charisma for a soft voice and a weird twitch.  He’s basically grown up to be Cameron Frye.  Is that what married life with Sarah Jessica Parker does to you?  Bottom line: I don’t know if this commercial will energize Honda sales.  Terrible commercials often work–those dancing hamsters sold a bunch of Kia Souls.  But I do know that any hope for a quality Ferris Bueller sequel will die a sudden and disturbing death on Sunday.

Strike Three:  Winter X-Games Guts and Glory  I didn’t watch the Winter X-Games over the weekend, but there was apparently an emphasis this year on snowmobile jumping, in effect making the snowmobile the Winter X stand-in for the dirt bike.  Who knew such an offbeat sport could so thoroughly embody the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (this guy survived and went on to win the gold in his event about an hour later)?

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Retro Prospect Profile

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I’m a big fan of prospect handbooks to the point that it makes my wife annoyed that I keep them once they’ve gotten past the year when they were written. I keep them because it’s fun to look back and some guys now that they’ve hit or missed and see what was said about them back in the day. Here are a couple of examples from the 2006 Prospect Handbook written by John Sickels. See if you can guess who they are. Only one was in the Cubs system at the time it was written, but both have Cubs ties.

Profile # 1

“_______ has power and lots of it. He controls the strike zone very well, boosting his OBP and enabling him to see enough cripple pitches to generate plenty of home runs, at least at the minor league level. Scouts worry that his bat may be too passive for the Major Leagues, and that pitchers with the right combination of stuff and aggressiveness will be able to contain him. His MLEs show him as a .240ish hitter at the ML level, albeit with enough power and walks to be useful. He is versatile defensively, best at first base but he can play third or corner outfield in a pinch. I don’t think he will hit quite enough to be a regular, at least for a good team, but he could help some clubs as a platoon player / pinch hitter / Ron Coomer-style guy.”

Who Am I? – View my Baseball Referenc Profile

Profile # 2

“Drafted in the first round out of a Missouri high school in 2004, ______ has tremendous offensive potential that he is just now starting to tap. Nagging injuries held him down in the first half of last year, but he heated up as the summer progressed, and finished the campaign on a tear in the Florida State League. _______ has a picture-perfect swing from the left side, the kind of swing that should keep his batting average high and produce lots of power. His strike zone judgement needs work, though he is adept at making contact against stuff that other players would chase and miss. I’m high on his bat. His glove is a problem. He is OK at third base, but is blocked by __________ at that position. He may end up at second base, but will need time to settle in. I predict a major offensive breakout for _______ in 2006.”

Who Am I? – View my Baseball Reference Profile

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Guess Who’s Back? Bobby’s Back

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Before we start the news, a brief personal life rant. We took the kids to Florida about a week ago and went to Magic Kingdom for the day. It’s the first time I’ve been to Disney World since I was a kid. I came away with one main impression followed be a few small impressions. The main thing I came away impressed with was their ability to make you bend over and drop your pants as they robbed you of all known dignity by charging you close to $300 to get in. That paid for me, my wife and my oldest son. Thankfully my youngest boy is only two and my daughter is just a few months old so they got in free. Once I pulled my pants up, we proceeded to pull them down once again at dinnter time and pay almost $40 for dinner in the park which consisted of chicken strips, fries, a BBQ sandwich and a roasted chicken plate. No drinks. The funny thing is, it’s not the prices that amazed me. It’s the way they end the night. They have a parade right through the heart of the park once it gets dark and then follow it up with some fireworks right over the castle. You end the night thankful for the opportunity to be taken advantage of. It’s a weird feeling once we’re done, but I’m glad we pulled our pants down. Now on to the news.

The Cubs signed “veteran” Bobby Scales from Japan to a minor league deal. Unfortunately, he still sucks and deserves no place on the Major League roster. He hit .261/.328/.394 with nine homers in 287 at-bats for the Pacific League’s Fighters. I don’t understand the point of the move other than it adds “veteran” depth in the farm system.

Dave Van Dyke ran a piece in the Tribune over the weekend on Brett Jackson and how he feels he’s ready for the Major League team. There was a quote that had me particularly pleased. “I value myself as a team player and someone who can really ignite an offense at the head of the lineup or in the middle. I’m capable of hitting for power and driving runners in, plus there’s nothing like getting on base and being driven in by somebody too.” I don’t think he’ll make this team out of spring training, simply because there is no spot for him, but he can make enough of a mark that Theo and Jed look to deal Marlon Byrd sooner rather than later.

Another name competing for a spot in Spring Training is Manny Corpas, who is still recovering from elbow surgery. He was removed from the 40 man roster recently, but invited to camp, to make room for Kerry Wood who signed a deal a week or so ago. I’m not really holding out much hope that Corpas will produce anything, but perhaps when he’s fully recovered he can be a pleasant surprise.

John Sickels chimed in with a post that highlighted a couple of grade C prospects to watch in 2012. The Cubs name that made the list was Neftali Rosario:

Neftali Rosario was drafted by the Cubs in the sixth round last June, from high school in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. He didn’t receive much attention pre-draft, but there are things to build on here. Although he needs more experience to refine his blocking skills, Rosario is mobile and should be an effective deterrent against baserunners due to a strong throwing arm. He has power, but his plate discipline needs work; he strikes out a lot and doesn’t draw walks yet, but he was just 17 on draft day and has plenty of time on the clock. He bears watching. Grade C with higher potential.

In non-player news, Bud Selig announced two things that impact the Cubs. First, the playoffs should be expanded as early as this year to 10 teams instead of the “traditional” eight teams. That means despite having a flaming pile of suck, the Cubs chance of making the post-season and being swept in the first round just increased. Also announced by Bud was that he is now in charge of the compensation for Theo Epstein to the Cubs. What has me nervous about that is an article in the Boston Globe saying “The Cubs and Red Sox will soon meet with a representative of the Commissioner’s Office or the commissioner himself to discuss the Epstein compensation issue. The best school of thought on this comes from an AL GM who is not associated with either team: “I think the commissioner will give the Red Sox a significant player. I don’t think MLB wants executives leaving their teams before their contracts are up and therefore he will try to deter teams from doing that again.


  • Looking for an international player to roll the dice on? View the list of available guys. (Disclaimer: VFTB makes no guarantee on players ages or names)
  • Christina Kahrl took a look at what an average player looks like at each position. Since the Cubs may have a lot of names hovering around these numbers it may be worth looking at.


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GO: Last Meal

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Let’s say you’re being executed tomorrow. What’s your last meal?

(If thoughts of your execution cause you to lose your appetite, pretend you’re starting a diet tomorrow instead!)

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