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May 2014

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COMMENTS

Looking for Some Positive Cubs’ News

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs’ fans knew going in that 2014 was probably another lost season at the Major League level.  However, there were a couple things to look forward to: the July 31st MLB trade deadline (as close as Cubs’ fans can get to Christmas in July), and the inevitable June call-up of Javier Baez. (…insert own screeching halt sound)

Okay, so we still have one of those things.

The early performances of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and Emilio Bonifacio should give the Cubs three valuable trade chips come tradin’season.  As much as I would like to see a Samardzija extension, my limited sources seem to think it’s not happening. Hammel seems to be the perfect follow up to Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman.  Organizational depth should to be added once again on or by July 31st, my only wish is that the Cubs insist on some “Major League ready” talent in return…this will at least give us something to watch in August or September.

Personally I would keep Bonifacio, (I know he won’t hit above .300 all year) but he has elite-speed and from what I have seen he can play 3-4 positions adequately in the Major Leagues.   Additionally, the front office is aware that when (if?) the Cubs do contend, veterans will be needed. Bonifacio is 29, young enough to be part of a 3-4 year window for potential contention. In my perfect Cubs’ world I would lock him up for 3 years (at a reasonable price of course) and I believe we would have a nice veteran commodity.

Now, regarding that Baez call-up in June…

It’s probably no secret to well-informed Cubs’ fans that the player hitting bomb after bomb in Mesa this March is…ah…scuffling for Iowa in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Baez is hitting .147, with a .502 OPS, and striking out 40% of the time.  It’s early…he’s young…or any other rationalization that will make us feel better about young Mr. Baez.

Nevertheless, my many years of studying Monty Python, has taught me to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life…so let’s search for something to offset Javier Baez’s struggles with dominant AAA pitching.

Ah, there we are…Kris Bryant! Bryant is destroying AA pitching to the tune of 11 homers and a 1.045 OPS…but you knew that already, so we will have to dig deeper. Bryant’s teammate Jorge Soler is off to a great start (1.122 OPS)…but Soler has played in exactly 6 games so far.  Yet again, as an educated Cubs’ fan you know Soler has shown the durability of Mark Prior in his young career. But it’s early; he’s young…etc., etc. Here are some other highlights from MLB’s Cubs’ top 20 prospects.

Albert Almora (Daytona High A) – Almora is hitting .250, with 1 HR, but he has only struck out 15 times in 124 at bats. “Congratulations Mr. Kroger, you are at the top of the Delta Tau Chi pledge list.” That’s an Animal House reference for those under 35.

C.J. Edwards (Tennessee AA) – Edwards is currently out with a bum shoulder, but the MRI was clean…so I am sure he will be fine. Pitcher injuries usually dissipate quickly these days. (sorry this no font for sarcasm)

I could go through the remaining members of MLB’s Cubs’ top 20, but most of it would depress you.  I will provide the caveat that Baseball Reference now lists a player’s age vs. the league average for that level…and most of the Cubs’ players are at least 2-3 years below the league average.  So therefore, it’s early; they are young; etc., etc….

Arodys Vizcaino has been dominating in limited action at Daytona and Tennessee…and his call-up may be the best we get this year.  Vizcaino would provide the Cubs’ with what looks like a potential closer…wait…we have a few of them already!   Neil Ramirez (14.7 K’s per 9, 1.23 ERA), Hector Rondon (21 K’s in 18 IP with 3 saves) and to a lesser extent Justin Grimm have shown the potential for late inning greatness.  Throw Vizcaino in with those guys and the Cubs may have power arms to match the dreaded Cardinals!

So there you go! That’s an honest positive development; the Cubs look to have some genuine swing and miss, non-Kevin Gregg type relievers to build a bullpen around…and that and the trade deadline thingy.

Still, I must confess that selfishly, as much as I want the Cubs’ to win…every lost year keeps my critically acclaimed book relevant( a great Father’s Day gift I might add): Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats 105 Reasons It’s Been 105 Years (formerly 104, soon to be 106)

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

  • Dork

    This post is even more depressing.

    • Eddie Von White

      Happiness!

  • Dork

    This post is even more depressing.

    • Eddie Von White

      Happiness!

  • PLCB3

    You’ve got positive news because the Cubs not winning keeps you in business. Isn’t that good enough?

    • Doc Raker

      Sorry about the Bruins CAPS. I guess if the Blackhawks get past SoCal they are going to have to beat the Rangers or the Habs to get the Cup again.

      • PLCB3

        Anyone but the Hawks.

      • Doc Raker

        Why do you hate? The Hawks are a special hockey team and you are missing out. Big game 7 in Anaheim Friday night, real hockey fans will be watching. Others will be doing shirtless Zumba.

      • PLCB3

        I have a shirt on when I do Zumba. I bought a pair of Zumba shoes last week and they have really helped me with Zumba class. Why are you hating on Zumba class?

      • Doc Raker

        I dont hate Zumba, I just pity the fool who would choose Zumba over a game 7 NHL playoff game.

      • PLCB3

        My health is more important. And the gym has TVs with the game on.

  • AC0000000

    You’ve got positive news because the Cubs not winning keeps you in business. Isn’t that good enough?

    • Doc Raker

      Sorry about the Bruins CAPS. I guess if the Blackhawks get past SoCal they are going to have to beat the Rangers or the Habs to get the Cup again.

      • AC0000000

        Anyone but the Hawks.

      • Doc Raker

        Why do you hate? The Hawks are a special hockey team and you are missing out. Big game 7 in Anaheim Friday night, real hockey fans will be watching. Others will be doing shirtless Zumba.

      • AC0000000

        I have a shirt on when I do Zumba. I bought a pair of Zumba shoes last week and they have really helped me with Zumba class. Why are you hating on Zumba class?

      • Doc Raker

        I dont hate Zumba, I just pity the fool who would choose Zumba over a game 7 NHL playoff game.

      • AC0000000

        My health is more important. And the gym has TVs with the game on.

  • Doc Raker

    You left out Stephen Bruno tearing it up in AA, a second baseman I might add. I would swap Bruno for Darney tomorrow if I could.

    I would keep Bonifacio, when was the last time the Cubs had a legit leadoff hitter? We had 4 months of Kenny Lofton in 2003 and Bobby Denier in 1984. A good leadoff hitter who can steal some bases is hard to come by, keep Bonifacio.

    Not knowing what Smarja is asking for I don’t know if I would keep him but based on performance I would say keep him. He is young enough to be an ace when the Cubs contend and is certainly pitching like an ace now. I would give him 5 years and $80M.

    • Dusty_Baylor

      That’s a good point Doc! If Ninja would take that deal, I think that’d be solid for both sides. Sadly, I think He’s looking Homer Bailey’s deal as a baseline, 6 years/$102 mill.
      I’m a fan of Bonifacio so far. Even when he reverts to his career averages, he still is a better leadoff hitter than the Cubs have had since Lofton.

      • Dork

        I think he is looking for $25 a year, for as many years as he can get. I think he will get it too, just not from the cubs. You guys are lowballing IMHO. If the cubs could have given him 100 for 6 it would be done I think. I think the shark is looking for the 150 range that is why we keep hearing they are so far apart.

      • PLCB3

        That’s why I don’t want to give him Tanaka money, but I’ll give him Homer money

      • Dork

        You guys do realize that there is no starting pitching help coming. This is the best staff we will see in the next 3 years, unless we (the cubs) are willing to pay for it. Its the wrong discussion what you would give him, the discussion is what he will take, because someone will pay it and someone will win a championship and it will not be us without starting pitching.

      • Dusty_Baylor

        Dork…there may not be anyone as good as Spellcheck coming. Maybe. That doesn’t justify giving him $22-25 million a year for a pitcher who’s never put it together for a whole season, never pitched like a #1 for a whole season.

      • Dork

        That is a reasonable argument. The part I take issue with is to say keep him and then say 100 mil. Those two things do not go together. 100 means trade him. You are right I do want to believe that this year is “real” for spellcheck.
        The one thing that I think this rebuild to this point has shown is that it is much easier to get position players than it is to get pitching. No one is giving up major league ready pitching. The draft for pitching is a crap shoot.

  • Doc Raker

    You left out Stephen Bruno tearing it up in AA, a second baseman I might add. I would swap Bruno for Darney tomorrow if I could.

    I would keep Bonifacio, when was the last time the Cubs had a legit leadoff hitter? We had 4 months of Kenny Lofton in 2003 and Bobby Denier in 1984. A good leadoff hitter who can steal some bases is hard to come by, keep Bonifacio.

    Not knowing what Smarja is asking for I don’t know if I would keep him but based on performance I would say keep him. He is young enough to be an ace when the Cubs contend and is certainly pitching like an ace now. I would give him 5 years and $80M.

    • Dusty_Baylor

      That’s a good point Doc! If Ninja would take that deal, I think that’d be solid for both sides. Sadly, I think He’s looking Homer Bailey’s deal as a baseline, 6 years/$102 mill.
      I’m a fan of Bonifacio so far. Even when he reverts to his career averages, he still is a better leadoff hitter than the Cubs have had since Lofton.

      • Dork

        I think he is looking for $25 a year, for as many years as he can get. I think he will get it too, just not from the cubs. You guys are lowballing IMHO. If the cubs could have given him 100 for 6 it would be done I think. I think the shark is looking for the 150 range that is why we keep hearing they are so far apart.

      • AC0000000

        That’s why I don’t want to give him Tanaka money, but I’ll give him Homer money

      • Dork

        You guys do realize that there is no starting pitching help coming. This is the best staff we will see in the next 3 years, unless we (the cubs) are willing to pay for it. Its the wrong discussion what you would give him, the discussion is what he will take, because someone will pay it and someone will win a championship and it will not be us without starting pitching.

      • Dusty_Baylor

        Dork…there may not be anyone as good as Spellcheck coming. Maybe. That doesn’t justify giving him $22-25 million a year for a pitcher who’s never put it together for a whole season, never pitched like a #1 for a whole season.

      • Dork

        That is a reasonable argument. The part I take issue with is to say keep him and then say 100 mil. Those two things do not go together. 100 means trade him. You are right I do want to believe that this year is “real” for spellcheck.
        The one thing that I think this rebuild to this point has shown is that it is much easier to get position players than it is to get pitching. No one is giving up major league ready pitching. The draft for pitching is a crap shoot.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I was looking at the MLB standings, It shows the Cubs with the worst record in the NL, but if you look at the run differential the Cubs are at -5 which should put the Cubs record near the middle of the pack. Renteria needs to manage this team better soon!

    • Dork

      I track run differential in my spreadsheet too. I generally believe in it, but I am starting to wonder if it applies to this team.

      • Doc Raker

        No, this team will lose 2 out of 3 no matter what, either by 1 run or by 15 runs, run differential only counts in seeding a youth tournament.

    • Doc Raker

      Which means the Cubs compete in most games and winning is close, just a few runs here and there and the Cubs record would flip to winning most series. Winning isn’t that far away is what the small run differential means to me.

      • PLCB3

        What is our ass theorem record?

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I was looking at the MLB standings, It shows the Cubs with the worst record in the NL, but if you look at the run differential the Cubs are at -5 which should put the Cubs record near the middle of the pack. Renteria needs to manage this team better soon!

    • Dork

      I track run differential in my spreadsheet too. I generally believe in it, but I am starting to wonder if it applies to this team.

      • Doc Raker

        No, this team will lose 2 out of 3 no matter what, either by 1 run or by 15 runs, run differential only counts in seeding a youth tournament.

    • Doc Raker

      Which means the Cubs compete in most games and winning is close, just a few runs here and there and the Cubs record would flip to winning most series. Winning isn’t that far away is what the small run differential means to me.

      • AC0000000

        What is our ass theorem record?

  • PLCB3

    Hey Chris, I started reading your book, and I was wondering why you don’t have the 2001 season listed under near misses. They won 88 games that year, led until an August/September fade, and only finished 5 games out of the wild card. If current rules were in place, we only finish 2 games out, which means we’re in contention till the end.

  • AC0000000

    Hey Chris, I started reading your book, and I was wondering why you don’t have the 2001 season listed under near misses. They won 88 games that year, led until an August/September fade, and only finished 5 games out of the wild card. If current rules were in place, we only finish 2 games out, which means we’re in contention till the end.

  • PLCB3

    2013 is 84 years since 1929, not 93. Also, had the Cubs won the 1910 World Series, the drought would be 103 years, not 102.

  • AC0000000

    2013 is 84 years since 1929, not 93. Also, had the Cubs won the 1910 World Series, the drought would be 103 years, not 102.