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!