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A Look at Starlin Castro’s Turnaround

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

It feels good to be back. I’ve been in the middle of a big move, and I’m still in a sort of limbo, but you, dear reader, have remained in my heart.

There hasn’t been much to get excited about as far as team accomplishments this season, but there have been some individual performances from young players that allow me to have hope for the future. Anthony Rizzo has shown tremendous maturity and patience at the plate, Shark is pitching out of his mind, Mike Olt has shown RIDIC power, and some of the young bullpen arms look outstanding. Today, though, I’d like to focus on the player who had the most question marks surrounding him coming into this season: Starlin Castro.

We all know the story of Castro’s 2013: it was awful. Apparently, there were attempts by the management to get him to adjust his approach to become a more patient, “selectively aggressive” hitter that just didn’t work out. To recap, his 2013 numbers were .245/.284/.347/.631 which was good for a -0.6 WAR and 72 OPS+ (by far career lows). [as a quick review for those that need it: WAR is Wins Against Replacement (so Castro in 2013 actually performed worse than a AAA replacement shortstop) and OPS+ is a normalized On-base plus Slugging metric in which 100 is league average - so Castro was 28% worse than league average - this was the first year he didn't have a 100 OPS+ or better].

It’s early in the season, but there’s no mistaking that Castro seems like a different player this year. Even without looking at the statistics, it’s obvious that Castro is driving the ball more, and he seems to be having more “fun” out there this year (does having fun lead to better production, or does better production lead to having more fun? I tend to think it’s more of the latter, but there’s probably a two-way relationship there). As for the numbers, they’re absolutely fantastic: .302/.341/.491/.832 with a 1.3 WAR (which is awesome – remember, WAR is cumulative, so to have that number in May is great – his career-high WAR for a season is 3.4, which he posted in 2012) and a 123 OPS+ (career high is 111 in 2011). Again, it’s early, but his slugging percentage is 60 points higher than his career high, as is his OPS. If this holds, this will be Castro’s best season by a significant margin. So far, Castro has been the second-best offensive shortstop in all of baseball (behind only Troy Tulowitzski, who is out of his mind).

The most striking difference is found in the power numbers. I’ve already referenced the career-high (so far) .491 slugging, but a look at Castro’s ISO can give us even more information [quick review: ISO (Isolated Power) is a measure of a player's raw power and is calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage, which gives us a metric for extra base hits per at bat]. Castro’s ISO this year is a very-excellent (and career high by far) .189 (his previous career high was .147). [side note: Mike Olt's ISO is an insane .275 - dude basically either strikes out or hits a home run.] Castro already has 6 home runs and 12 doubles.

So, why is Castro playing so much better this season? Is it because he’s abandoned the “experiment” from last season and returned to his pure, “see-ball-hit-ball” instinctive approach? Or, is that “experiment” finally paying-off? After all, the point of that experiment was for Castro to wait for pitches that he can drive for extra-base power. Is it the positive influence of Rick Renteria? Is it the absence of the influence of Dale Sveum? Should we credit new hitting coach Bill Mueller? Is it simply a result of Castro’s natural maturation (after all, he’s still only 24)? Is he working harder now? Is his personal life in better shape? Is it due to the energy brought in by players like Bonofacio? Is it due to pressure from minor league players knocking at the door? Honestly, we’ll never really know, and I suspect that it’s a complex combination of all of the above. After all, human beings are messy, complicated creatures, and our behavior is rarely due to one factor. I’d love to hear your thoughts about Castro in the comments. Do you think he is going to sustain this over the course of the season and moving forward? If you wanted to trade Castro before, have you changed your mind?

Next time, I’ll have some thoughts on the upcoming – and very important – MLB Draft. Later!

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Enemy Territory: Why My Visit to Busch Stadium Was So Disappointing

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I was in St. Louis last weekend for a conference, and it just so happened that the Cubs were in town for a series against the Cardinals. I got to attend the games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I won’t recap the games here, since that’s been done elsewhere (although, obviously, Friday night was AWESOME and Saturday sucked). I would, however, like to share my experiences as a Cubs fan in Cardinal land – and why it was so disappointing.

I knew that there would be plenty of Cubs fans at Busch – there always is. So, I wasn’t expecting to be all alone in blue. What I did expect – in fact, what I was looking forward to – was some aggressive, good-natured (or even not-so-good natured) ribbing/heckling/etc.. I expected to hear it from the gloating Cardinals fans. As I donned my Cubs shirt and headed down to the stadium, I was imagining the kind of things I would hear (I was sitting in the cheap seats, after all), and what some witty, sharp responses might be. Hell, Cubs fans in the bleachers heckle EACH OTHER incessantly during games at Wrigley. Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t harassed one bit. Not even a joking “Cubs suck.” Not a single “Wrigley Field is a dump” or “Starlin Castro is awful.” Nothing. Although I enjoyed watching the games, I was severely let down by the lack of back-and-forth with the Cards fans.

I have a larger point to make here. We always hear (mostly from those in the national media, as well as Cardinals fans themselves) that Cardinals fans are “baseball’s best fans” (@BestFansStLouis is a hilarious Twitter follow, by the way) because of their supposed knowledge of the game and respect for visitors. What I felt at Busch stadium wasn’t respect – it was apathy. During Friday nights game, when the Cards were down 2 runs in the 8th, at least two-thirds of the stadium emptied. All those who left were Cards fans. This was on an absolutely gorgeous FRIDAY night. I was at the Cubs’ home opener 2 weeks ago. It was 35 degrees with 30 mph winds. The Cubs were down 7-2 in the bottom of the 9th – and almost no one left. It was a stark contrast to atmosphere I saw in St. Louis. I wonder if winning so much makes fans like this – or if fans in St. Louis would be this way no matter what…

The thing that irked me the most, though, was Ballpark Village. This is the Cardinals’ completely contrived, corporate, vanilla version of Wrigleyville. Here’s the tweet I sent out when I visited Ballpark Village after the game on Saturday:

Ballpark Village comes complete with its own rooftop building. It looks very much like one of the Wrigleyville rooftops (it’s across the street from the park, there are bleachers and a bar on top, fans can see the game from the roof, etc.), but it differs in major ways: the Cardinals own the building, and the attendance on the rooftop counts as attendance for the ballpark. Interestingly, Ballpark Village is on Clark Street. You can’t blame the team for cashing-in on what’s obviously something that fans enjoy – but the fact that it imitates the ballpark atmosphere of your hated rival seems so strange. I guess what I’m saying is that this is another piece of evidence that Cards fans may lack passion. Do you think that the Yankees would build something that looks like Fenway? Again, is it the winning that makes these guys so complacent, or is it something inherent in the nature of St. Louisians? (is that a word?)

The Cardinals giveaway on Friday night was a Michael Wacha bobblehead. I was originally going to run a contest looking for the most creative way of destroying the bobblehead (I was going to post video of it on the site). I thought that I could probably do more good with this thing, though, so I’ve decided to auction the bobblehead on ebay and give the proceeds to Cubs Charities. So, spread the word to all those Cards fans you know.

Catch ya later…

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Report from Opening Weekend at Wrigley

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I was fortunate enough to be able to make it to Chicago this weekend for the 100th Opening Day at Wrigley. So, instead of diving in to a particular topic about the team, I thought I’d share my experience for those of you who couldn’t make it.

I don’t teach class on Thursday afternoon or at all on Friday (have I mentioned how awesome it is to be a college professor?), so my wife (who is a teacher and was on spring break) and I flew up on Thursday afternoon. I met my brother and his friends (who were attending their 5th straight home opener) around 10 a.m. on Friday morning to get in line for our bleacher seats. While we were in line, the “unofficial” mascot Billy Cub came by…you may have heard that he’s been in the news lately.

The gates opened a little after 11, and we promptly took our seats in the left field bleachers. Since this was the home opener of the 100th season, so I guess I was expecting something really special to happen before the game. I know the official anniversary is later this month, but I was hoping for something beyond the usual “announce everyone on the clubhouse staff’s name” opening day stuff. Anyway, at least we weren’t kicked out of the park before the game even started.…and it was cool to see some of our fine military folk during the anthem:

As for the game, well, it was a dud offensively, but the pitching staff looked great again. Travis Wood did allow a homerun to Chase Utley, but I can tell you that it was definitely wind-aided – it was one of those rare cold games at Wrigley when the wind was blowing out (to right field). Welington Castillo’s homer, on the other hand, was a line drive right into the teeth of the wind. After the game, we had some fun in Wrigleyville, where I got to meet a few fellow bloggers and some people who I’ve only previously “Twitter met.”

I was also able to catch the game on Saturday. There’s no need for me to recap the game for you – that’s been done elsewhere. What I can do, though, is show you this:

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, that’s our very own C-A-P-S holding up a VFTB sign (check out Joe’s post from yesterday for a close-up). Yes, CAPS, I saw you – sorry we didn’t get to meet in person, maybe next time!

Dear readers, I have to share with you one of the great regrets of my life. After the game on Saturday, I left to go hang with a friend downtown, while my brother and his friends stayed to hang in Wrigleyville. A few minutes after I left, this happened:

Yep, that’s my brother on the left, standing right next to FERGIE FREAKING JENKINS. I’ll never live this one down.

I’m headed to St. Louis to watch the Cubs series for a conference next weekend, so perhaps I’ll have some interesting stories to tell. It’s always fun to enter the lions’ den.

If you haven’t yet, check-out our swell podcast. We just recorded quite a dandy.

Before I go, since we’re all doing it, I thought I’d share some music. This song’s definitely no party anthem, but the musicianship and songwriting are incredible. Every pop singer who lip syncs on TV should be forced to watch this 100 times.

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Cubs Roster Taking Shape

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer announced yesterday that Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish have made the Cubs MLB roster (making my early roster predictions look AMAZING – and making Joe’s predictions look TERRIBLE). So, with George Kottaras and Donnie Murphy gone, the positional roster looks like this:

C – Welington Castillo / John Baker

1B – Anthony Rizzo

SS – Starlin Castro

…and here’s where it gets interesting:

2B – Darwin Barney / Emilio Bonifacio / Luis Valbuena

3B – Olt / Valbuena

OF – Junior Lake / Nate Schierholtz / Ryan Sweeney / Justin Ruggiano / Ryan Kalish / Bonifacio

The challenge for Rick Renteria is going to be shuffling around players enough to give everyone enough at-bats to stay productive, while also not shuffling so much that the younger guys don’t get consistent at-bats. As you can see, I think Bonifacio will play in both the infield and the outfield, while Valbuena will likely see time at both 2B and 3B. However, I don’t think you have Olt on the roster to sit on the bench – given his upside – so finding time for all these guys is going to be quite difficult. There is, of course, a chance that a trade or two could still happen – but opening day is just around the corner (yay!), so those moves are becoming less likely. The Barney and Schierholtz trade rumors are still hanging around…

To me, Barney has to be the odd man out. He’s pretty much a glove-only guy at this point (even with the expected positive regression at the plate) – so you don’t want him to be taking at-bats away from guys who hit better (and have more developmental upside). Of course, he’s also not a good pinch-hit option coming off the bench. I just have a hard time finding a reason to have him on this team at this point (aside from the intangibles like “leadership”). Every time he’s in the lineup, I can see myself wishing that someone else was playing instead.

The only roster questions that remain involve the 5th starter (Carlos Villanueva or Chris Rusin) and the last bullpen spot (Rusin / Alberto Cabrera / Justin Grimm). My money is on Villanueva to grab the 5th starter spot (until Jake Arrieta comes back) and for Cabrera to take the bullpen gig (out of options). I’d rather have Rusin remain a starter in AAA anyway – I’m sure we’ll need him at some point later in the season for a spot start or two.

How Renteria handles these playing-time issues will be a huge test for the first-year manager. If he pulls this off, we may have found ourselves a keeper.

I’ll be in Chicago next weekend for opening day at Wrigley Field. I’ll be in the bleachers on Friday and Saturday. If you’re around, and you happen to see me, feel free to say “hi.” Since I’ve been living in Georgia the last 6 years, I’ve become quite the wimp, so I’ll probably be so bundled-up you won’t recognize me anyway.

In the meantime, please head over to iTunes to subscribe to, rate, and review the VFTB podcast.

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Why Javier Baez Should Start in AAA

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Before I get into my thesis, check out this photo (props to Brett at BleacherNation.com for turning me on to this):

Take a look at where that pitch is – just a few feet from home plate. Take a look where Baez’s bat is: pointed almost straight at the pitcher. No way he gets that around and makes contact, right? WRONG! How does he do it. BAT SPEED OF THE GODS. Right after this moment, he hit a 450+ ft. homerun to center field.

So, Baez has proven he is ready for the big leagues (with a league-leading 5 homeruns this spring) and should break camp with the team, right? I mean, it’s not like the Cubs have tons of great players, so we should just go ahead and see what we have with this kid, right? WRONG! Here’s why:

1) Baez could still use development. Remember, he’s never seen an at-bat in AAA. You might be saying, “…but, he’s killing MLB pitching, who needs AAA?” Well, keep in mind that 1) he’s not hitting these homeruns off of Clayton Kershaw (many of these pitchers will be in MiLB as well, 2) pitchers in spring training are often working on spotting the fastball, so they aren’t always using their repertoire in the same way they would during the season, and 3) Baez has looked really bad at times striking out on breaking balls way outside the zone. Baez is always going to kill mistakes – there’s no doubt about it, but his pitch recognition skills leave much to be desired. He pretty much swings at everything – if a pitcher makes a mistake, it goes 500 ft., but if a pitcher spots a breaking ball, Baez is going to swing and miss more often than not. The comparisons of Baez to Gary Sheffield in terms of bat speed are apt – the difference is that Sheffield had great pitch recognition skills, even as a teenager. There are some that believe that pitch recognition cannot be developed past a certain age. That might be true, but it’s worth giving Baez a little more time in the minors to work specifically on that skill.

2) All that said, Baez might break camp with the MLB club this spring if it weren’t for long-term financial concerns (HUGE props to Justin Jabs at baseblog94.com for a great rundown of this issue). Here’s the short version: players make the league minimum for the first three years of their careers; in years 4, 5, and 6, they are eligible for arbitration (and thus more money); after 6 years, they are eligible for free agency. To clock a year of service time, a player has to log 172 days in the majors. So, if the Cubs wait until late April, they avoid losing an entire year of pre-free agent years. If the Cubs were a team on the cusp of a playoff berth, OK – maybe you don’t care about the long-term consequences and keep him on the roster now to go for it this season. Obviously, the Cubs aren’t in that position, so there’s absolutely no reason to lose that year.

3) There’s also a reason he might not be called up until July: the Super 2 rule. The top 22% of players (in terms of service time) that have less than three years of service time but more than two are eligible for arbitration a year early (after 2 years instead of 3). The cutoff for Super 2 is July. So, there is another reason that we might have to wait awhile to see Baez at Wrigley.

As Joe pointed out on the podcast (which, btw, you should go to iTunes and check out), many young players are being signed to long-term deals before they reach free agency, so this shouldn’t be a factor, right? The Cubs will just sign him to a long-term deal long before he reaches free agency. This is probably true, but Theo has stated that the team policy is to buy one of the free agent years and to include a second in a team option. So, the team will have more equity in a player if they have more years of pre-arbitration or pre-free agency left when the contract is negotiated. The team is giving a player a contract sooner than they “have” to, so they have more leverage. These service-time issues are still factors in this scenario.

So, even though I’ve stated that Baez is already my favorite player, I’m more than happy to wait to see him at Clark and Addison for all the reasons I’ve discussed above. I think it will be worth the wait.

Until next Friday…

 

 

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Infield Logjam Looming for Cubs

Friday, March 7th, 2014

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!

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Baseball is Back; Theo Talks Prospects

Friday, February 28th, 2014

It always feels great when baseball returns. The Cubs played their first spring training game yesterday against the Diamondbacks. Shark got the “start” (2 innings) against Bronson Arroyo. There wasn’t much insight to be gained from the action on the field – since it’s the first game, guys were in and out of the game very quickly – even the broadcasters were having a hard time keeping up. Starlin Castro looked great in his 2 at-bats, smoking a line-drive double to right center in his second at-bat. Mike Olt did nothing with his two at-bats, and the big-time prospects didn’t make it into the game, so we’ll have to wait for Baez-Bryant-Soler-Almora highlights.

Rick Renteria did his first in-game interview as Cubs manager. I know those things are always sort of awkward (the manager is trying to pay attention to the game while speaking to the broadcasters), and I know Rick was probably a little nervous doing this for the first time, but man, is that guy LOW KEY. That’s not a bad thing, but I think I nodded off 3 times when he was speaking (the content – the most important part – was just fine).

This was the first game in the brand new Cubs park in Mesa. I have to admit, even though it’s a corporate, suburban nightmare simulacrum of Wrigley, it looked pretty fun. This game set the Cactus league record for attendance at over 14,000. The dimensions of the outfield walls are a replica of Wrigley (the walls are moved back a few feet to compensate for the thinner, drier air of AZ), and the grandstands have that Wrigley look as well (there’s even replica brick behind home plate). That’s where the similarities end, however. The player facilities at this new park are state-of-the-art. The training facilities, weight room, batting cages, video rooms, theatre, etc. are amazing. It’s going to be a real downer for the players to leave those facilities and return to the horrendous  player facilities in Chicago. I suppose we’re getting a taste of what the Wrigley facilities could be if the renovations ever begin.

The most interesting part of the WGN broadcast was surely the interview with Theo Epstein. There are so many great quotes that make me feel good about the future of the team:

  • “You want wave after wave of prospects. When these kids come up to the big-league level, you want another wave that’s knocking at the door in the high minors. You want to avoid a gap. One bad draft can set an organization back for years because it creates a vacuum, and you often have to fill that vacuum from a position of desperation from outside the organization, and you can make mistakes that way.”
  • “We attack [pitching depth] with volume through the draft every year, and we try to get an arm back in every deal we make.”
  • When asked about the timeline of prospects coming up to the minors: “When people ask me, ‘when is player X gonna get here,’ I try to shift the question from ‘when’ to ‘how.’ How is he gonna get here? We don’t focus on timing as much as we do getting the player as fully developed as possible in the minor leagues. Our goal is to develop each prospect to their maximum potential physically, mentally, and fundamentally. We have individualized development plans for each player, they have them in writing, they sign off on them, they contribute to them. So when we talk about what it will take to get to the big leagues, we point them back to the plan. Here are your weaknesses physically, here are your weaknesses fundamentally, here are your weaknesses mentally, and here’s a plan to get better in those areas. When they turn those weaknesses into strengths, that’s when they’re ready for the big leagues. It’s not a question of time, it’s rounding out their development. You only get one chance to develop a player in the minor leagues – you can do an awful lot of damage by calling a player up too early.” This is my absolute favorite quote. I love the emphasis on a player’s accountability and ownership of their own development. I love that they sign a written copy of their own development plan. As a teacher, I always try to emphasize process with my students, so I’m thrilled to hear Theo speak about “how” over “when.” You can argue the merits of Theo’s plan, but you certainly can’t argue that he doesn’t have one.
  • Good news for those that have lamented the bullpen woes of late: “We’re pretty excited about the power arms we have now [in the bullpen]. We have plenty of depth in the bullpen this year, we’ll have two left handers, some more power arms with good breaking stuff, some swing-and-miss stuff. Knock on wood, but we have a chance to get off on the right foot with the pen this year. The last couple of years, the pen has cost us early, and it has a chance to be a strength for us out of the gate this year.”

I’m excited to finally have on-the-field action to write about, and I’m looking forward to our discussion from now until October. Hey, if you haven’t checked out the VFTB podcast, give us a try. You can subscribe to us on iTunes, where we always appreciate your ratings and reviews. We’d also love to receive your questions for our mailbag segment.

Until the podcast Monday night, have a great weekend, Cubs fans!

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More Prospect Love, Budweiser Deal, Starlin Batting Leadoff?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Hello friends. I write to you from several thousand feet above the Atlantic as I return from my assignment covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi for VFTB. I’ll have a report for you on our next podcast. Speaking of podcasts, make sure to subscribe to, rate, and review the VFTB podcast on iTunes.

The last of the Top 100 prospect lists is out from Baseball America. As expected, the Cubs once again make a fine showing. Here’s the breakdown of the Cubs on the list:

5. Javier Baez
8. Kris Bryant
28. C.J. Edwards
36. Albert Almora
41. Jorge Soler
87. Pierce Johnson
100. Arismendy Alcantara

Almora is a little lower on the list than others, but that can probably be attributed to his injuries. If healthy, I believe we’ll see him climb up the board rapidly this summer.

Here’s some tweets from Baseball America’s Ben Badler (@BenBadler) that should make you feel all nice:

“”Why did the Rangers ever trade C.J. Edwards?” -pretty much every team in baseball #BA100″

“The scariest thing about Javier Baez isn’t his freakish bat speed or power. It’s how much he improved all around last year. #BA100″

“Jorge Soler should be a Top 25 prospect next year as long as he’s healthy. Bat speed, 70 power, good approach. Could be a monster. #BA100″

Other bits:

  • Patrick Mooney reports that Starling Castro will likely hit leadoff to start the season.
  • Bruce Levine tweeted that the new Budweiser deal will pay the Cubs $10 million a year for next 14 years.
  • The Cubs released the 2014 TV broadcast schedule.
  • Theo Epstein spoke to Jesse Rogers, and it seems that the GM may regret emphasizing “parallel fronts” in the rebuilding process.

Hey, if you’re into Twitter, follow me, why dontcha? @powell_sean

Until the podcast Monday night…have a good one!

 

 

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You Own the Cubs: Now What?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

There’s not a ton of Cubs-related news at the moment, so let’s play a game.

Scenario: Imagine you are suddenly the new Cubs owner/president/general manager/demigod.

Rules:
1) You must start from the current real-world scenario facing the Cubs. Roster, finances, farm system, draft position, etc.. The Cubs can’t suddenly have a $200 million payroll out of the blue (although you can create a plan to help make this happen).

2) You can’t go “back in time” and sign FAs that have already been signed or makes trades for players who have already been traded this season. You must start from today and move forward.

Now, go forth and get us a championship. You are free to approach this however you’d like, although here are some issues that I urge you to consider.

1) What would you do in the very near term regarding the major league roster? What’s the lineup and starting rotation? Who is in the bullpen and on the bench? Who gets sent back down to the minors?

2) Prospects! When do you call up or promote minor leaguers? Where do they fit in to the major league lineup once they’re there?

3) What trades would you pursue – this offseason, during the season, and next offseason?

4) What would be your overall long-term strategy? What would you do differently than the current FO?

5) How would you handle the financial situation? Think about rooftops, Wrigley renovation, radio and TV deals, etc..

6) How long would you keep Clark?

I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

By the way, if you haven’t done so already, please check out Episode 1 of the View from the Bleachers podcast! It was a total blast to do, and I’m chomping at the bit for the next episode. Please subscribe to us on iTunes and remember to rate and review!

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