Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Prospect Spotlight: Dylan Cease

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

The Cubs 8th ranked prospect for 2016 is right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease. Cease was selected in the 6th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of high school in Georgia. During his senior season, Cease was injured and eventually needed tommy john surgery. Before the injury, he was a lock to be a first round pick in the draft. Time will tell if he will be able to reach the potential he showed before the injury, as he hasn’t had enough exposure to professional baseball to make a judgment quite yet. In 11 appearances in the Arizona Rookie League, he posted a 4.50 ERA and had some real command issues which led to a lot of walks. If he is going to be successful, that is what he needs to work on most. However, if he can work on his command and gain some control, his stuff has more potential than any pitcher in the Cubs minor league system.

His fastball has good movement and sits between 97-99 mph and can touch over 100 mph. He also has a good curveball and a solid changeup. It will be interesting to see how he performs in his first full professional season. During this spring in intersquad matchups, scouts were raving about how good he is looking. He showed improved command and his fastball was as impressive as ever.

Given his experience level in professional baseball, he will be starting this season at rookie ball. If he can perform like he was in the Spring, there is no reason why he shouldn’t move up through short season Eugene to possibly reach South Bend by the end of this season. Even with all of the great position player prospects the Cubs have, I would recommend keeping track of how Cease performs this year. He is a guy I can see making a big impact at the major league level in the next few years.

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MLB is a Whore, but I Love Her Anyway

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Chicago Cubs - Lost 5-3 to San Francisco

Explain something to me, because I’m just not getting it. Why is it that when someone has paid money to MLB to watch their product, which obviously shows that they have interest in the product and support the product, would you restrict their ability to consume the product? Last night I put the kids to bed and turned on the Roku about 7:30p EDT and was told that I was blacked out from watching the game. Keep in mind that this was NOT the game that was featured on my local Fox affiliate and it was not a game that was featuring a local team, but because MLB is a whore and willing to lock out their fans in an effort to make more money, I couldn’t watch. So, instead you get some general commentary about the news / notes before the game.

Before the game, the Cubs announced that Jason Heyward will only have to miss a couple games as a result of his injury in game one. That is huge news, because as we saw yesterday, the depth in the outfield could leave us thin. Matt Szczur was called up to allow for some depth in the OF (he was on rehab assignment with Tennessee), but to make room for him, the Cubs needed to make a roster move. The three candidates to get axed were Neil Ramirez, Tim Federowicz, and Clayton Richard. All were essentially out of options (Richard had three option years left, but enough service time to where he would have had to clear waivers first), so it was a move that essentially said “This player is done in our organization” and they chose Ramirez.

I get it, but I don’t have to agree with it. Personally, I would have parted ways with Richard or Federowicz, but I know Joe Maddon seems to like the flexibility of the three catchers and for some reason Richard is hidden in the back of the pen and people forget he’s there (until he gets in the game and we remember why he’s hiding). Don’t get me wrong, Ramirez hadn’t pitched well either, but I like his young, hard throwing arm rather than an older arm in Richard. It’s a move I don’t agree with, but it’s done and I wish Ramirez all the best.

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Lost 7-6 to Tacoma

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Won 10-8 over Biloxi

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Won 6-4 over Lynchburg

South Bend Cubs (A) – Won 10-6 over Lake County

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What The Cubs Can Do If Jason Heyward’s Injury Is Serious

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

If you missed the game yesterday, and I will forgive you since it was a west coast affair, Jason Heyward went back on a ball in the 1st inning and made a great catch as he dove, but landed head first into the wall.

It was one of those plays that you know immediately that something will be wrong, but you don’t know just how serious it will be. Heyward left the game and was replaced by Tommy La Stella, and now we wait to see what becomes of Heyward’s injury. He is scheduled for an MRI today to get the full extent of the injury and we should know at that point if a DL stint is needed. That led me to evaluate what the state of the outfield looks like for this team should Heyward or someone else be shelved long term.

Looking at the current roster I see loads of flexibility and versatility.

Current Roster

Jorge Soler – LF & RF

Dexter Fowler – CF (He could probably play other spots, but I prefer him there)

Kris Bryant – LF and has played some CF. He said he even prefers CF

Javier Baez – Has played OF, but I prefer him at 3B if depth in the OF is shallow

La Stella and Ben Zobrist – They can play the OF, but again, I prefer them in the IF

Looking at the current roster, we have temporary fill ins that can hold down the fort if Heyward needs a couple days off, but what if it’s more?

40 Man Roster Options

Matt Szczur – He’s rehabbing down in Tennessee and should be able to come back very soon. If absolutely needed, he could probably come back as early as this weekend, but may be a little rusty.

Unfortunately, that’s it for 40 man roster guys, which means the long term answer, if not listed above, would require a roster move. The 40 man roster currently sits at 39 members, so there is flexibility there if a move is required, but who would get the call?

Other Options

  • Matt Murton – He’s 34 years old, hitting .264 / .280 / .304 for Iowa and I once saw him naked in a locker room, but he IS an option. I don’t really want to go that route long term, but he’s a guy that, if called up, could be designated for assignment, clear waivers and sent back down to keep the 40 man spot open.
  • Shane Victorino – Ideally you don’t want to go this route either since it costs you more than league minimum to bring him up per his contract and he’s playing terrible for Iowa
  • Ryan Kalish – Been there…done that. Got the T-Shirt.
  • Albert Almora – This is an intriguing option, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to go there yet. He’s playing great for Iowa and I could see him competing for a starting CF job when Dex leaves this off-season, but he’s not ready for regular at bats in the Majors, so you’d have to hang tight on that one. I do think we will see him sometime this season, though.

The options are not great, so let’s hope Heyward is OK.


Chicago Cubs - Won 8-1 over San Francisco

  • Soler decided to show up and play baseball for once. Joe Maddon was giddy about his play last night.

    “It’s nice to see Jorge play a complete game because that’s what we’re looking for from all of our guys,” Maddon said. “We just don’t want hitters, we want guys that will play a complete game. I was really, really pleased to see that for him and for us.””I don’t care about the home run at all,” Maddon said. “It has nothing to do with how excited I am right now. Everything else I saw, I saw a major league baseball player out there. That’s what got me excited.

    “How about how he ran the bases? When he came in after scoring one run, I wanted him to know that’s how you run the bases.”

    “I want to believe he understands what we’re talking about,” Maddon said. “He went out and did it. That’s the kind of mental effort that can make him a superstar.” (Source)

  • Jake did Jake things (yawn…another win). Before the game, I saw this tweet from Brett at Bleacher Nation and I thought to myself…”that doesn’t look that hard”. Then I tried it.

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Lost 9-4 to Tacoma

  • SP – Jake Buchanan – 5 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 2 BB, 2 K (Talk about taking one for the team. Yikes that is an awful night!!)
  • 1B – Taylor Davis – 3-for-4

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Postponed

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Lost 5-3 to Lynchburg

  • SP – Jeremy Null – 5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K (Has a 0.75 ERA on the season)
  • LF – Ian Happ – 2-for-4, 3B, R (

South Bend Cubs (A) – Won 7-5 (10 inn) over Lake County

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Don’t Panic (Yet)

Friday, May 20th, 2016

It’s been a frustrating week. We’ve been riding high all season with this ridiculous start, but we all knew (even if we didn’t want to admit it to ourselves) that the Cubs weren’t actually going to maintain this pace and win 140 games this season. The most annoying part is who we lost to: two of the worst teams in the league. Such is baseball.

Most of this is just the ebb and flow of a season and regression to the “true” talent level of a club. The Cubs are definitely one of the best teams in baseball, they’re just not 140-wins good (no team is). We still have the largest lead of any division leader, so it isn’t time to panic yet (right?).

What would I change about this team right now? Nothing. If you watched some of these recent losses closely, you noticed that the team was still putting up good ABs and hitting the ball hard–many of those liners were just hit right at a fielder. You can’t ask for more from a player.

The only thing that concerns me (a little) is the number of whiffs on balls in the strikezone during the game on Thursday. If this starts becoming a trend, I will actually start to worry a little bit.

The pitching has been great lately, though. If it wasn’t, the Cubs might been swept in the last two series.

So, would you make any changes right now? Is it time to panic, or should we ride this out, trusting that the offense can’t slump forever? The Giants have been scorching hot lately, so this series will be a real test. Let me know your thoughts!

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Organization Recap – We Lost to the Brewers? Again?!?!

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Chicago Cubs - Lost 5-3 to Milwaukee

It’s been a little bit of a frustrating week to watch Cubs baseball. A series loss to the Brewers recently on the heels of a series loss to the Padres does not sit well with me, however I know this team is the best in baseball and you’re never as bad as you look in your worst moments or as good as you look in your best. I’m not sure if we’ve seen either of the best or worst yet this year, but I know this team is better than they played this week. Tonight is Jake Arrieta day, so that makes the world all better.

I don’t know how much else to say. I tend to subscribe to losses in a long season the way I subscribe to shots hit in the wood (there are many) when I play golf. If I waste time looking for them, it only makes me more angry. The same goes for losses. If we waste time breaking down every nook and cranny of the loss, it’s only going to make us happy. Instead, look at the standings, and then stare at a photo of Jake and question your sexuality.

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Lost 2-1 to Tacoma

  • SP – Ryan Williams – 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 K (Left game with apparent injury. No update yet)
  • RF – John Andreoli – 2-for-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Won 7-2 over Biloxi

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Won 4-3 over Winston Salem

South Bend Cubs (A) – Lost 5-3 to Great Lakes

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Why Kyle Hendricks Needs To Be In the Bullpen

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

What a fine time to be a Cubs fan. This team has looked absolutely unbeatable early on. So you cant help but feel greedy by pointing out flaws, things that don’t seem to fit, and issues that may not be issues at all. So lets nitpick for the sake of conversation and ask: Whats wrong with Soler? Well the simple answer is he is not making good hard contact. He’s run into some bad luck with an unsustainably low .213 but that’s got a lot to do with weak ground balls and easy pop flys. So what do you do? In spite of the very vocal vote of confidence from Epstein and Maddon, I think he needs regular AB’s in Iowa. He needs to see pitches, he needs to work on adjustments and get back to the player that he was in October of last year.

Kyle Hendricks, oh how I root for this guy. I root for the idea that baseball is a thinking man’s game and that this guy can change speeds and outsmart opponents every 5th day. He does, twice, then he’s not fooling anyone. Is it familiarity? Is it lack of endurance? Does it matter? Put the guy in the best position to succeed, and I believe that him coming out of the bullpen with that filthy change-up would be an incredible weapon much like an O’Day. So who takes his spot? You release Ramirez, like it or not, he’s not the same guy. And you give a young arm like Paul Blackburn a shot. No? Yeah probably not, maybe 2 years ago. But a guy with the drive desire and repertoire is in the pen and his name is Justin Grimm. He will start someday and he will succeed, it’s up to the Cubs if it will be for them.

Last and certainly not least is Miguel Montero. Brought in for his exceptional framing skills. A skill that shouldn’t be but clearly is, because, well… no one has built a robot umpire yet that can put on an #umpshow like Joe West. Montero is struggling, he hasn’t looked nearly as agile behind the plate since coming back as Grandpa Rossy and hasn’t matched his offensive output either. He doesn’t look right. I respect his game calling and leadership skills, but I don’t think its a coincidence that the Cubs are carrying three catchers either. There is something wrong. Lets not write him out of the will(son contreras) but get him right and then bring him back, Tim Federowicz is a serviceable major league backup. Just not sure if Ross is able to handle the bulk of catching duties in the mean time. So maybe you challenge Contreras and allow him to work with a talented veteran staff. If even for a cup of coffee. They wont carry three catchers for long, they’ve be outspoken about it before and that resulted in sending Wellington Castillo to the Mariners for a bag of used baseballs.

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Are Sports Just One Big Conspiracy?

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Every now and then I’ll be driving and letting my mind wander. I’ve had a recurring thought that creeps in once in awhile that I quickly dismiss, but it always lingers in the back of my mind. What if the whole sports landscape is just one big conspiracy?

What if it’s like the Truman Show, where Jim Carey is living in this world and everyone around him knows it’s fish bowl, so to speak, where people are just watching. What if all of sports is just fixed and pre-planned like the WWE? Stop and think about it for a second. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over 100 years and haven’t been there since 1945. How is that possible? The Cavaliers just happen to win the lottery when Lebron James, who is from Cleveland, is in the draft. The Bulls win the lottery when Rose is in there. Things just seem fishy sometimes.

In the end, I don’t believe in my grand theory that everything is pre-scripted, however the older I get, the more I believe that their is corruption and fixing in all sports these days. There has to be shady things that go on behind the scenes. In a world as corrupt as the one we’re living in, it just has to be happening.

Chicago Cubs - Won 2-1 (13 Innings) over Milwaukee

  • David Ross was a boss again last night. He was throwing guys out on the basepaths like his life depended on it. He was a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t normally click on the videos in these posts to watch them, go back and watch the one above as it highlights the day he had. I’m so happy that he’s having the season he is, so it doesn’t feel like charity keeping him on the roster in his swan song.
  • Offense struggled again last night, but got it done when it mattered. Addison Russell is a beast when it comes to clutch situations. It seems like he’s always the guy up in those spots and he almost always does enough to get the job done. It’s amazing to step back and look at how young he is and how high his ceiling still is.
  • The bullpen was magnificent. I harp on the 13 man pen, and I still disagree with it because it causes rust and gives less flexibility for offensive and defensive switches, but last night the pen produced seven innings of shutout relief work led by Pedro Strop, who tossed two scoreless with three strikeouts. Mad props to the pen last night. They saved us and are the reason we won that game.

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – No Game

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Lost 5-0 to Birmingham

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Split a DH with Winston Salem 5-9 & 2-0

South Bend Cubs (A) – Lost 5-4 to Great Lakes

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Organization Recap – Cubs Sign A Closer?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Mad props as always to Randall Sanders for another nice logo for us to use for our site. Make sure to follow him on Twitter at (@RandallJSanders)

Chicago Cubs - Lost 4-2 to Milwaukee

When you’re scheduled to face a guy like Chase Anderson and a team like Milwaukee, both who are not considered giants in terms of skill, you need to come out with a win or at least play better than the Cubs played last night. To their credit, they hit the ball hard, but right at people. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, that’s what makes this game fun. Any team can beat any team on any day. It’s why the season is as long as it is. We get a true separation of the best teams when the dust settles and when that happens the Cubs will be on top and the Brewers will be somewhere near the bottom.

If we look for positives, I would highlight the following:

  • Jason Heyward hit his first HR of the season, to which I say “It’s about freakin’ time, dude”. Hopefully this will be the start of a hot close to the month for Heyward. He needs to have some of the pressure of that signing this off-season be lifted with some success.
  • Trevor Cahill pitched 2.2 scoreless, hitless innings of relief for Kyle Hendricks who was not that great in his outing. Sometimes you have to step back and just sort of marvel at Theo and Jed’s ability to bring in starting pitchers who are down on their luck and refurbish them for resale or internal use. Cahill was really bad for the Braves in 2015 before coming here and not great for the Diamondbacks the year before. Essentially his best days were long gone. A move to the bullpen and something done behind the scenes and he’s a new man. Throw in guys like Scott Feldman (who brought Jake Arrieta), Clayton Richard, Travis Wood, etc and you see that Theo and Jed can bring in scrap and potentially turn it into something usable. It may not be gold they spin, but usable parts for scrap is a good move and when you string enough of those together, you will like the results.
  • That leads to the last positive yesterday. The Cubs announced late in the afternoon that they had signed Joe Nathan to a contract. He’s immediately placed on the 60 day DL, which means that even though he has a Major League contract, he will not burn a spot on the 40 man roster as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery in 2015. John Heyman reported that Nathan can earn up to $2.4 mil in incentives this season and as much as $4.6 mil in 2017. The signing reminds me a lot of what they did in the past with guys like Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, and Jason Motte. Two produced positive results and one did not. That’s good value right there.It’s important to remember that we’re not getting a guy that can be the best closer in the game. IF Nathan can come back and produce, it would be as a veteran with high leverage experience, which is always needed come playoff time. I’m not counting on him and if he comes back this year (supposedly sometime in late July or early August) and is productive then that’s just gravy.

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Lost 5-3 to Reno

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Won 9-4 over Birmingham

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Postponed due to weather

South Bend Cubs (A) – Won 2-1 over Lansing

  • SP – Carson Sands – 5 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 3 K
  • OF – Donnie Dewees – 1-for-4, 2 RBI and a nice defensive play (see video)
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Why I’m Not a Fan of the Current Cubs Roster

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

If you’ve read the blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a pretty traditional guy when it comes to roster construction. For as long as I can remember, I’ve really enjoyed the front office side of baseball, when it comes to roster moves and designing a complete and competitive roster. That said, I’m sort of an old school curmudgeon when it comes to what I like and what I don’t like, and there are things about this current roster that drive me bananas.

Bloated Bullpens – This one drives me completely insane. I’m a big proponent of the seven man bullpen. The Cubs have carried eight and as many as nine in the pen. That’s insane. There is absolutely no reason for it, especially with this current starting staff that has shown they will consistently work deep into ball games. The bloated bullpen has two main flaws. It takes away your offensive and defensive flexibility in the late innings. Because you’re down a position player, it prohibits a little of the creativity that I would love to see from someone as bright a baseball thinker as Joe Maddon. Second, it prevents you back end of the pen guys from staying sharp because they aren’t needed very often. Take Clayton Richard, for example. In the last seven days, he’s thrown one inning. For the year, he’s under six. This for a guy who has the endurance to throw that in one outing, and he’s considered you long man. How can you expect him to be a long man if he doesn’t have the opportunity to throw long outings? I cannot stand how this pen is constructed.

Three Catchers – This one is just stupid. There is no reason to have three catchers unless one of them is named Kyle Schwarber and if Tim Federowicz has his name changed to Kyle Schwarber, I retract that statement too. Maddon has said that he likes the flexibility that having the extra catcher on the roster gives him, because it means he can pinch hit with a catcher late and not have to worry about being without. I call BS. Too many managers are so afraid that use that backup guy for fear that they will have no one to catch in the event of an emergency, but every team has that guy that can strap on the gear and get behind the plate for an inning or two. You call the pitches from the dugout and finish the game. If you don’t have that guy, you approach someone on the roster you believe can do it and have them practice it every now and then (paging Clayton Richard). To top it all off, Federowicz is not even a good player, so it’s not like you’re holding a roster spot because you’ve got an abundance of talent back there. When Matt Szczur comes back this week, Federowicz needs to be sent down and we need to do away with this three catcher nonsense.


  • The Cubs have outrighted OF Ryan Kalish to Iowa. I’m glad to see he’s staying in the organization as a filler, but he doesn’t have much place on this major league team unless it’s in a pinch.
  • Jason Grimm answered some mailbag questions here
  • The Cubs did Karaoke, even without Munenori Kawasaki and you can watch it here.
  • Pedro Strop said something dumb

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Lost 5-3 to Reno

  • SP – Drew Rucinski – 6 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 K
  • LF – John Andreoli – 1-for-4, 2B, R
  • Dan Vogelbach was named the Pacific Coast League player of the week for last week. He hit .333 (8-for-24) with 3 HR, 2 2B, 8 RBI.

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Lost 3-2 to Birmingham

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A-Adv) – Lost 5-2 to Frederick

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