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Friday

7

March 2014

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COMMENTS

Infield Logjam Looming for Cubs

Written by , Posted in General

The Cubs may have a classic “nice” problem in the near future. Several of the team’s top infield prospects will either be on the major league team coming out of spring training – or will be pounding at the door. There’s not enough room on the team for all of them in the future, so something will have to give. Obviously, it’s nice to have a plethora of good, young talent. If a player doesn’t help your team directly, he can be a big part of a trade package that brings something back in return (such as pitching).

Here’s the promising group of players that I’m considering:

Starlin Castro – The incumbent starter at SS, looking for a bounce-back season. Jed Hoyer has recently restated his confidence in Starlin, and he will definitely be the opening day starter at SS, barring an unforeseen complication with his recovery from a mild hamstring issue.

Mike Olt – Once a top-25 prospect in all of baseball, Olt fell off last year, apparently due to eye issues. Reportedly, those issues have been resolved, and Olt is seeing the ball well again. He’s hit for some nice power so far this spring. He’s been prevented from playing third base so far due to some shoulder soreness, but reports have him returning to third soon. Before the eye issues, Olt was projected to have 25-homerun potential with an above-average to excellent glove at third.

Javier Baez – We all know what we have here. One of the top prospects in all of baseball with an all-world power tool. The major question is whether he will stay at SS or be moved to 2B or 3B (he’s been working out at both positions). Some scouts say that Baez’s upper body will fill-out more, which may make him more likely to play third (he certainly has the arm for it), but he may play more 2B in the near term. His power will play well anywhere on the field. His glove probably projects to above-average to excellent at 3B.

Kris Bryant – Again, we all know what’s up with Bryant offensively, but recent reports indicate that the FO is optimistic that Bryant can stick at 3B (at least for now). Many have assumed that Bryant would eventually be moved to the outfield, but his bat (which is good enough to play anywhere), would be even more valuable in the infield. Epstein has said that there’s no hurry to move Bryant off the position.

Arismendy Alcantara – One of the more popular prospects in the system among fans who follow MiLB closely, Alcantara is a switch hitter with excellent speed and good pop. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter who can get on base (and steal a few). Jason Parks of BP has described him as “Jose Reyes lite.” Alcantara brings several things to the Cubs lineup that are currently missing – speed and pop from the left side. He’s likely to play 2B at the major league level.

Christian Villanueva – Perhaps overlooked, Villanueva had a great season at AA Tennessee last year, posting a .261/.317/.469 line with 19 HRs and 41 doubles, and scouts say he has gold glove potential at third. He’s apparently been impressive so far in camp.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume a couple of things: 1) Anthony Rizzo is locked-in at first base (the Rizzo/Vogelbach question is something will address at another time), and 2) All of these prospects pan-out to be viable major leaguers (this almost certainly will not happen, but since this can’t be predicted, we’ll just go with this for now).

So, what do you do? For the short term, do you give Olt the shot this season at third? What does that do to Valbuena, Murphy, and Barney? Who do you want/who do you think plays on the big league club in the future? Where do they play? Does anyone get traded? Does someone come off the bench? Is that the best way to get value from that player? I have my own thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours first.

Other bullets:

  • Have you seen that ridiculous interview with Ken Griffey Jr.?
  • Cubs single-game tickets go on sale TODAY at 10 a.m. central on Cubs.com. I’m planning to attend my first opening day at Wrigley this year. It’s the 100th anniversary of the park, so I’m pretty excited about it.

Have a nice weekend!

  • PLCB3

    Where do you plan to sit for opening day? I might have some job interviews in Chicago and I would like to come to town for opening day. I will go if I get them because that week is my mom’s birthday as well

    • Doc Raker

      You fly in for job interviews at Domino’s?

      • The Lincoln Park location is looking for an senior cheese application associate.

      • Eddie Von White

        That position has a lot of holes in it.

      • Symour Butts

        Yeah, but there is still a lot of Dough in it.

      • PLCB3

        You guys are unbelievable. I’m not about that pizza and lifeguarding life anymore.

      • Doug S.

        I know. Ever since they took the yoga mats out of the pizza dough, it’s just not the same.

      • Seymour Butts

        You can take the lifeguard out of the pizza, but you can’t take the pizza out of the lifeguard.

      • J T Ripper

        ..without a knife.

      • Doc Raker

        Sorry, Little Ceasars is the class of the industry. I know a saucie’r at Little Ceasars. Full benefits, retirement after 20 years, pension health plan, lots of dough.

      • Truly an upper crust eatery.

  • AC0000000

    Where do you plan to sit for opening day? I might have some job interviews in Chicago and I would like to come to town for opening day. I will go if I get them because that week is my mom’s birthday as well

    • Doc Raker

      You fly in for job interviews at Domino’s?

      • The Lincoln Park location is looking for an senior cheese application associate.

      • Eddie Von White

        That position has a lot of holes in it.

      • Symour Butts

        Yeah, but there is still a lot of Dough in it.

      • AC0000000

        You guys are unbelievable. I’m not about that pizza and lifeguarding life anymore.

      • Doug S.

        I know. Ever since they took the yoga mats out of the pizza dough, it’s just not the same.

      • Seymour Butts

        You can take the lifeguard out of the pizza, but you can’t take the pizza out of the lifeguard.

      • J T Ripper

        ..without a knife.

      • Doc Raker

        Sorry, Little Ceasars is the class of the industry. I know a saucie’r at Little Ceasars. Full benefits, retirement after 20 years, pension health plan, lots of dough.

      • Truly an upper crust eatery.

  • Doug S.

    Speaking of single game tix. Braves series July at Wrigley, here I come.

    • Way to go Doug!! A good one for sure!

  • Doug S.

    Speaking of single game tix. Braves series July at Wrigley, here I come.

    • Way to go Doug!! A good one for sure!

  • Sean Powell

    Meanwhile, no one has attempted to address the topic. I should really stop doing these audience participation pieces.

    • Eddie Von White

      Its all about the attention span.

    • Doc Raker

      Don’t stop, how would we give CAPS grief then?

    • Oh Sean, don’t take it personally. No one knows how to solve the problem. Not even the Cubs themselves!

      • Doc Raker

        Yes Sean, don’t take it personally. Actually your write up is so thorough it makes it hard to add anything. And since you didn’t say anything controversial, like Starlin Castro’s luck must change in 2014 because his BABIP is blah blah blah no one can fire back about the vagaries of balls hit into play. Suggestion: next write up tell us where these ball players eat dinner and if they have ever dined with Seymour. And if they did dine with Seymour, did they hang themselves before the entrée came out of boredom.

      • Bingo. This was my take too…keep plugging away Sean…we appreciate the thought that goes into this stuff.

      • Seymour Butts

        No fatalities to date. I suppose I could use your method of bringing along a much more interesting brother to carry the conversation.

      • Doc Raker

        Like a clown interesting? Does he amuse you like a clown amuses you? Bathroom humor and regurgitating Al Gore’s propaganda isn’t that interesting to everyone.

      • Seymour Butts

        The other brother has some interesting stories as well, but yes a clown is just fine.

    • Seymour Butts

      Sorry Sean.
      I would install Olt at 3rd as the season starts and let him sink or swim. Barney at 2nd. Either Valbuena or Murphy as a bench guy and trade the other for Kershaw. Ok, that may not happen

  • Sean Powell

    Meanwhile, no one has attempted to address the topic. I should really stop doing these audience participation pieces.

    • Eddie Von White

      Its all about the attention span.

    • Doc Raker

      Don’t stop, how would we give CAPS grief then?

    • Oh Sean, don’t take it personally. No one knows how to solve the problem. Not even the Cubs themselves!

      • Doc Raker

        Yes Sean, don’t take it personally. Actually your write up is so thorough it makes it hard to add anything. And since you didn’t say anything controversial, like Starlin Castro’s luck must change in 2014 because his BABIP is blah blah blah no one can fire back about the vagaries of balls hit into play. Suggestion: next write up tell us where these ball players eat dinner and if they have ever dined with Seymour. And if they did dine with Seymour, did they hang themselves before the entrée came out of boredom.

      • Bingo. This was my take too…keep plugging away Sean…we appreciate the thought that goes into this stuff.

      • Seymour Butts

        No fatalities to date. I suppose I could use your method of bringing along a much more interesting brother to carry the conversation.

      • Doc Raker

        Like a clown interesting? Does he amuse you like a clown amuses you? Bathroom humor and regurgitating Al Gore’s propaganda isn’t that interesting to everyone.

      • Seymour Butts

        The other brother has some interesting stories as well, but yes a clown is just fine.

    • Seymour Butts

      Sorry Sean.
      I would install Olt at 3rd as the season starts and let him sink or swim. Barney at 2nd. Either Valbuena or Murphy as a bench guy and trade the other for Kershaw. Ok, that may not happen

  • Sean Powell

    For what it’s worth, here’s how I see this playing out over the next few years:
    1B) Rizzo
    2B) Alcantara
    SS) Castro
    3B) Baez
    Bryant moves to the outfield.
    Olt and Villanueva are traded (in separate deals) to bring back pitching. They’ll get more value back in trade then they would from those guys coming off the bench.

    • PLCB3

      1B. Rizzo
      2B. Alcantara
      SS. Baez (if Castro doesn’t get his shit together this year, otherwise it’s Castro)
      3B. Bryant (See above about Castro). If he does, Baez moves to 3B, Bryant to OF.

      I see us keeping Vogelbach too because I predict the NL will add the DH soon.

    • I like to keep tabs on these kinds of predictions and check back. The math geek in me. So I’ll make a note to revisit every six months or so.

      • P.S. I should have added that I will only revisit, or I should say only re-mention, if you are correct because that’s cool. I’m never out to prove anyone wrong, which is not cool.

      • various commentors

        Oh where is the fun in that…

  • Sean Powell

    For what it’s worth, here’s how I see this playing out over the next few years:
    1B) Rizzo
    2B) Alcantara
    SS) Castro
    3B) Baez
    Bryant moves to the outfield.
    Olt and Villanueva are traded (in separate deals) to bring back pitching. They’ll get more value back in trade then they would from those guys coming off the bench.

    • AC0000000

      1B. Rizzo
      2B. Alcantara
      SS. Baez (if Castro doesn’t get his shit together this year, otherwise it’s Castro)
      3B. Bryant (See above about Castro). If he does, Baez moves to 3B, Bryant to OF.

      I see us keeping Vogelbach too because I predict the NL will add the DH soon.

    • I like to keep tabs on these kinds of predictions and check back. The math geek in me. So I’ll make a note to revisit every six months or so.

      • P.S. I should have added that I will only revisit, or I should say only re-mention, if you are correct because that’s cool. I’m never out to prove anyone wrong, which is not cool.

      • various commentors

        Oh where is the fun in that…

  • Sean Powell

    We’ll be in the bleachers in LF or left-center

    • PLCB3

      Good deal. When I sit in the bleachers I’m always in section 304.

      • …drinking a Dos Equis.

      • PLCB3

        I don’t drink

      • You should start. It’s the best.

      • PLCB3

        I gave up a few years ago. Much better for my wallet and liver.

  • Sean Powell

    We’ll be in the bleachers in LF or left-center

    • AC0000000

      Good deal. When I sit in the bleachers I’m always in section 304.

      • …drinking a Dos Equis.

      • AC0000000

        I don’t drink

      • You should start. It’s the best.

      • AC0000000

        I gave up a few years ago. Much better for my wallet and liver.