I know I teased you with this awhile back and I feel bad, but I just did it again. As far as I know, no deal for Soriano is imminent, but it’s always fun to watch the rumors, the latest of which noted that Soriano could interest the Mets and the Rangers as they seek to add one more bat before the beginning of the season.
It’s hard to say if Soriano will be traded. There aren’t any sports betting lines to say what the odds are, but I feel like he will, though it may not come before the beginning of the season. One thing that is certain is that the longer he’s a Cub and producing, the more likely he is to be traded as that contract becomes more and more manageable for teams to acquire in a trade.
In transaction news, Lendy Castillo was designated for assignment to make room for Carlos Villanueva on the 40 man roster. The question now is who is moved to make room for Scott Hairston as his deal is not been officially announced yet. Moving Soriano would certainly help that situation, but most likely a move is going to need to happen in the coming days to make room for him before the start of spring training. My guess is the Hairston signing really puts the future of Dave Sappelt in jeopardy with the Cubs.
In case you missed it, John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com posted a prospect note on Junior Lake and Brett Jackson
Junior Lake, SS, Chicago Cubs
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 215 DOB: March 27, 1990
If you see Junior Lake on the right day, he looks like one of the best players in the world. He’ll blister a long home run, or he’ll make a spectacular defensive play, or he’ll show off a tremendously good throwing arm, or he’ll steal a critical base. If you see Junior Lake on the wrong day, he’ll look like one of the most confused, helpless players in the world. He’ll swing at a breaking ball two feet off the plate, or he’ll butcher a routine little league grounder, or he’ll throw the ball 20 feet over the first baseman’s head, or he’ll run himself into a critical out. Sometimes he does the good and bad things in the same game, or the same inning. Lake’s tools are simply excellent, especially his throwing arm. He’s made improvements around the edges and flashes intriguing baseball skills, but he’s not consistent about it and is still frequently frustrating. Triple-A pitching will be a big test of his adjustment skills, though he could put up some superficially strong numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Pay a lot more attention to his BB/K/AB ratio than to his standard slash line. Also watch his position: he’s still rough at shortstop and could end up at third base or the outfield. Grade C+
I have been an optimistic about Brett Jackson, but now. . .well, now I don’t know what to think. The tools are obvious: his combination of speed and power is very potent. He’ll take a walk, helping his OBP even when his batting average is low. Although many scouts think he fits best in right field, I’ve seen him make some very stellar plays in center, demonstrating plenty of range to go with his arm strength. But you know the rest of Jackson’s story, don’t you? The strikeouts. . .oh, the strikeouts. His whiff rate was simply obscene last year, especially after he was promoted to the majors. He seemed to go backwards with his swing at Iowa, having problems with breaking stuff outside the zone, but also with fastballs that would tie him up inside. As stated, he makes a serious effort to work counts, but he just swings and misses so damn much. Jackson’s other skills are strong enough that he could be a productive and useful player even if he’s hitting .230, but what if he can’t break the Mendoza Line? That’s a legitimate question. Pacific Coast League sources are quite split on him. Some think he will still be a valuable regular player with a few adjustments, others think he’s destined for a reserve role. Some believe he’ll never solve the contact problem and is doomed to wander the Quadruple-A borderland for the next decade. What do I think? I think he’s the bastard son of Rob Deer and Andy Van Slyke. If I were the Cubs, and I’m not trying to contend in 2013, I would stick him in the lineup, let him hit seventh or eighth, and just see what happens. Grade B-.
On a more broad spectrum, MLB is changing a rule this year, making it illegal to do the fake to third, throw to first move. The rule change is long overdue. The move never works and is a complete waste of time. Now, if we can just get the umps to call the strike zone the way it’s written and we’d be in business.